MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A former Alabama lawmaker best known for leading the 2017 impeachment push against then-Gov. Robert Bentley, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a health care fraud case.
Former state Rep. Ed Henry entered his plea on a charge of government property theft in a federal court in Montgomery.
Prosecutors said medical doctors agreed to improperly waive co-pays for certain Medicare patients who enrolled in chronic-pain-management services provided by Henry’s company, MyPractice24. Henry’s company provided monthly care-coordination calls with patients of about 20 minutes each, according to court documents.
Waiving the required co-pays meant Medicare paid for services patients possibly did not need or would have refused if they had to pay the $8 co-pay, prosecutors said.
“This is a type of health care fraud,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross said after the plea hearing.
Henry’s attorney, Max Pulliam, filed a notice last week that his client intended to plead guilty under an agreement reached with prosecutors. The trial judge still must approve the plea and Pulliam said Wednesday that he could not comment.
Henry faces up to 10 years in prison under the criminal statute, but as part of the agreement prosecutors will ask for one of the lowest recommended sentences, and a lower fine than that allowed.
The Hartselle Republican was charged last year with paying kickbacks to doctors who referred patients to his company. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss those charges.
Henry initially denied all wrongdoing. He wrote on Facebook last year after the charges were announced that, “my goal was to help patients.”
The charge against Henry grew out of a pill-mill investigation in Montgomery. Ross said federal investigators found evidence of the health care fraud after examining documents seized from a doctor’s office.
Henry served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. He did not seek re-election in 2018.
He is perhaps best known in the Alabama Legislature for starting the impeachment push against Bentley. Henry filed impeachment articles accusing Bentley of willful neglect of duty and corruption in office.
The impeachment effort was launched after Bentley’s former law enforcement secretary accused Bentley of having an affair with a staffer and of interfering with law enforcement business. Bentley acknowledged making mistakes in his personal life but denied the other accusations. He resigned in 2017 on the same day lawmakers opened impeachment hearings.