Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today the arrest of the owner and CEO of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services LLC, Chirie Bazzelle.
Bazzelle, 46, of Benton, is accused of failing to report contracts with Milton “Rusty” Cranford, Robin Raveendran, and her former husband Michael Grimes who is a convicted felon. She is also accused of continuing the employment of individuals who had been convicted of Medicaid fraud and ignoring additional Medicaid fraud claims of other employees. Bazzelle has been listed as the sole owner of New Beginnings Behavioral Health Services in Pulaski County since 2010. Bazzelle is also accused of attempting to evade taxes from January 2014 through February 2019.
“Bad actors who have their hands in the taxpayer cookie jar must be held accountable,” says Attorney General Rutledge
In June, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Program Integrity and Director of Operations, Raveendran, for scamming the Arkansas Medicaid Program of $2.2 million. Raveendran is also a former Senior Auditor with Arkansas’s Medicaid Program Integrity Unit. In August, Rutledge announced the arrest of former Preferred Family Healthcare Director of Billing, Helen Balding, for similar actions. In October, Rutledge announced the arrest of Vicki Chisam who is accused of being an accomplice to Raveendran, Balding and other individuals known and unknown to the Office of the Attorney General.
The Attorney General’s office was assisted in this investigation by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and will be prosecuted in cooperation with 6th Judicial Prosecutor Larry Jegley.
Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled.