State seeks millions from Tulsa accountant

Saturday, March 5th 2005, 11:21 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Health Department is seeking nearly $5.2 million in penalties against a Tulsa accountant accused of destroying documents on expenditures for two state nursing homes, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Patrick G. Walters, a Tulsa certified public accountant, is accused of providing false information as part of a conspiracy to hide E.W. ``Dub'' Jiles' role in the temporary management of nursing homes in Norman and Cyril, The Oklahoman reported.

Jiles and former Deputy Health Commissioner Brent VanMeter were sentenced to prison for their roles in a criminal conspiracy that involved bribery, fraud and public corruption in the administration of Oklahoma nursing homes.

The penalties against Walters were requested in an administrative action filed this week by the Oklahoma Health Department.

Carl Hughes, Walters' attorney, denied any wrongdoing and called the administrative action ``lunacy, idiocy and vindictive.''

``There's no way they can assess an administrative penalty against Walters because he was not licensed by the Health Department,'' Hughes said. Walters is licensed by a state accounting board.

Hughes said Walters was hired to do an accounting of money spent by Medical Management Group Inc. during its temporary management of the financially troubled Rosewood Manor Nursing Center in Norman and the Cyril Nursing Home.

He said Walters was able to perform the accounting through a review of the company's computer records but was unable to initially provide the Health Department with all the backup documents that had been requested. Those documents had been seized by the FBI as part of its investigation of Jiles, Hughes said Friday.

Copies of the backup documents were provided to the Health Department as they became available from the FBI, Hughes said.

Hughes said Walters destroyed his working papers through a routine document destruction program after the statute of limitations passed for retaining such documents.

A Health Department attorney said Walters failed to provide a complete accounting for a $90,000 petty-cash fund related to the operation of the nursing homes.

The administrative action against Walters is similar to a September action filed against Christopher ``Kitt'' Wakeley, president of Medical Management Group. Penalties totaling $3.75 million were requested in the earlier filing.

That is still an open case, said Gary Gardenhire, the Health Department's general counsel.

The Cyril nursing home closed in December 2003. Rosewood Manor is under new management and has a new name, Whispering Pines nursing home.