Benchmark Healthcare nursing home owner Johnnie Mac Sells pleaded guilty to two counts of health care fraud in U.S. District Court on Wednesday for spending over $600,000 in Medicaid funds on strippers, gambling, and pet care.
Sixty residents staying at Sells' Festus, Mo. nursing home were relocated when the state shut the facility down in September 2016. The final straw came when inspectors discovered that four patients were not receiving medication for congestive heart failure, epilepsy and schizophrenia because pharmacy bills weren't being paid.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Bills went unpaid. The phones were shut off. Paychecks bounced. Trash piled up. Flies swarmed. And food deliveries stopped. A patient advocate described the situation as ‘a disaster.'"
It was revealed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court that Sells began stealing the Medicaid funds meant for patients starting in 2013. For the next three years, Sells stole more than $667,000.
Sells spent $185,000 at adult entertainment clubs, $15,000 on pet care, $4,500 at casinos, and $12,000 at his country club. He also wired $439,000 into his personal accounts and transferred $153,000 to a close relative.
Sells also used $3,500 for bail bonds in August 2016. "Sells was charged that month in St. Charles County with domestic abuse and sexual misconduct. According to prosecutors, he slammed his girlfriend through a glass coffee table and exposed his genitals to her 12-year-old son," the Post-Dispatch reported.
Sells' sentencing is set for July 25.