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Prosecutors on Wednesday formally charged the former chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board with felony fraud.
A special prosecutor from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office filed two counts of Medicaid fraud, a Class A felony, against Dr. Brian Hyatt, a Northwest Arkansas psychiatrist.
The charges come nine months after an Advocate investigation uncovered an apparent billing scheme that had prompted several state and federal investigations and the suspension of Hyatt’s Medicaid license.
Formal charges were the impending next step following Hyatt’s arrest in October.
“Hyatt was previously arrested pursuant to a warrant on October 9 in Rogers and then appeared in Pulaski County District Court on October 19, where he surrendered his passport and signed an extradition waiver before being released on a $15,000 surety bond. Today’s filings constitute formal charges being brought in this case,” Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a statement.
“Prosecution of Medicaid fraud in Arkansas is the responsibility of my office, and I take that responsibility seriously.”
Class A felonies are punishable by six to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
An affidavit lays out the allegations against Hyatt. In short, he is accused of devising a scheme to bill Medicaid and other insurers for psychiatric care that was never provided while he was running the behavioral health unit at Northwest Medical Center in Springdale.
Prosecutors brought charges after reviewing patients notes, billing records, hundreds of hours of surveillance footage as well as interviewing patients and hospital staff.
Hyatt and his attorneys have not responded to repeated requests for comment since February. In his Medical Board resignation letter, Hyatt said he would defend himself from the “false allegations” against him in the proper forum.
In addition to the criminal case and administrative review of his Medicaid license, Hyatt is also a defendant in a growing number of civil suits filed by former patients. The several dozen plaintiffs have accused Hyatt of fraud, false imprisonment, chemical restraint and negligence as well as physical and mental abuse.
Hyatt’s medical license remains active, and the Medical Board is monitoring the court proceedings, according to a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Health.
Arkansas Advocate is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arkansas Advocate maintains editorial independence. This article was published with permission from the Arkansas Advocate. Contact Editor Sonny Albarado for questions: [email protected]. Follow Arkansas Advocate on Facebook and Twitter.