VanMeter, Jiles indicted by federal grand jury

Thursday, February 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Former Deputy Health Commissioner Brent VanMeter, already serving prison time for a bribery conviction, faces new charges in a federal grand jury indictment that also targets an Oklahoma nursing home owner.

A nine-count indictment returned Wednesday alleges that VanMeter and nursing home owner E.W. ``Dub'' Jiles conspired to send Medicaid and Medicare patients to homes Jiles controlled. Jiles collected millions of dollars in federal aid payments and paid VanMeter at least $18,800 in cash bribes, U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell said.

``VanMeter and Jiles conspired together to deprive the people of Oklahoma of their right to honest government,'' McCampbell said.

VanMeter, 48, was convicted in October 2000 of seeking a bribe from nursing home operator Jim Smart, and Smart was convicted of agreeing to pay it. Each was sentenced to three years in prison, $50,000 in fines and post-release supervision.

VanMeter was in charge of nursing home regulation at the time FBI agents arrested him at the Health Department on May 2, 2000.

The new indictment alleges a conspiracy in which Jiles, 66, paid bribes to VanMeter and other health officials in return for preferential treatment from June 1995 to August 2000.

The document does not name any other officials. McCampbell said the investigation into the Health Department by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service is continuing.

VanMeter's attorney, Mack Martin, said he was disappointed the government went forward with the case.

``He's going to plead not guilty and we're going to defend the thing,'' Martin said.

The indictment alleges that in return for the bribes, a company controlled by Jiles was appointed as temporary manager of five nursing homes closed by the Health Department. Jiles allegedly concealed that he controlled the company, called Medical Management Inc.

Jiles also obtained patients eligible for Medicaid and Medicare from nursing homes that were closing, the indictment says. Patients from five nursing homes closed by the state were sent to homes controlled by Jiles, it says.

He allegedly concealed that he controlled Oak Hills Living Center, which collected patients eligible for federal aid.

Jiles' attorney, Carl Hughes, said the government will not prove that Jiles owned Oak Hills or that he paid bribes to VanMeter.

``The government will not be able to prove either one of those, period,'' Hughes said. ``I don't think there is anything of merit in there.''

The indictment says Jiles had warning about Health Department inspections. When an inspector reported a severe violation at one of Jiles' homes in October 1999, VanMeter overruled any action against the home.

The indictment accuses VanMeter and Jiles of laundering the bribery money. VanMeter bought a cashiers check for $5,100 with cash in July 1999, then deposited the check in a new account while listing a post office box as his address.

Seven deposits, totaling $18,800, went into VanMeter's account at KIS Futures in Oklahoma City.

The indictment claims Jiles paid four bribes to a Health Department certification reviewer in March 1998, April 1998, April 1999 and December 1999. That person is not named and McCampbell said he does not think he still works at the Health Department.

Those bribes allowed Jiles to move patients from residential care facilities closed by the Health Department to homes that he controlled, documents state.

McCampbell said he expects Jiles will surrender to the indictment.