Former hospital chief on trial in fraud case

For years, Ken Beverly was a powerful voice, testifying on behalf of hospitals at the General Assembly and taking his message to the media.

As the longtime president and CEO of Archbold Medical Center, Beverly helped make the health system a major hospital player in Georgia. The Thomasville-based organization operates four hospitals and three nursing homes.

So it’s a stunning shift to see Beverly in federal court in Valdosta, accused of conspiring to falsify records to obtain extra Medicaid funding for his nonprofit medical center. Beverly, who retired in 2008, has pleaded not guilty. His trial has dominated headlines this week in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise and  other South Georgia newspapers.

The Beverly trial features Archbold Medical Center’s former chief financial officer testifying for the prosecution. William Sellers, the ex-CFO, has entered guilty pleas to charges of falsifying documents.

The indictment alleges that Sellers, with Beverly’s knowledge and agreement, sent fake documents to the state Department of Community Health. The agency, which runs Georgia Medicaid, had requested that Archbold provide minutes of Thomasville Hospital Authority meetings that would demonstrate that the authority maintained control over the hospital. That documentation was necessary to prove Archbold was a “public” hospital and therefore qualified for the added government money – more than $9 million.

But the indictment says the hospital authority had no operational control of the hospital, and in fact met only once from 2000 through 2004.

Beverly and Sellers conspired to submit falsified minutes of meetings that made it appear that the authority ran the hospital, the indictment alleges. The grand jury also charged that Beverly pressured Sellers to lie about the CEO’s involvement with the falsified minutes.

Atlanta Unfiltered noted in April that Beverly left Archbold with a $6 million retirement package.

The trial is moving into the defense phase. Georgia Health News will provide an update of the trial as it concludes.