(06/07/2002)
Ritchie County native Barry Douglas Haught, 48, is facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on several counts of Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Now a Tampa, Florida resident, Haught pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit Medicare and Medicaid fraud and launder the proceeds, and one count of conspiracy to commit Medicare fraud, to obstruct justice, and launder the proceeds. In all he fleeced the U. S. taxpayers of $14 million dollars.

Other sources said the scam, using various partners and companies, bilked taxpayers of $25 million.

Haught, originally from the Smithville area Haught oil and gas family, had been involved in other schemes, including a pornographic ring in Polk, Florida.

He was accused of using family members in Florida and West Virginia in laundering money. As part of the plea bargain arrangement just completed in Florida, the court agreed not to charge Haught's relatives, which included his siblings, parents, children and in-laws, some reportedly residing in Ritchie County.

Haught and a partner, Ernest L. Sleeth, had their sales people sweep through poor neighborhoods, among other places, asking Medicare recipients if they wanted equipment, such as hospital beds, electric scooters and mattresses.

A Tampa newspaper said doctors like John S. Bidelspach would write a prescription for the equipment and receive kick-backs. Prosecutors said hundreds of people did not need the equipment, and many did not receive the devices.

Haught and Sleeth organized the scam in the mid 1990's, using sales corps and compliant physicians to sign-on with illegal prescriptions.

Both Tampa and St. Petersburg newspapers said Haught has a long history of "con-artistry"


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