By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A former Alabama lawmaker best known for leading the 2017 impeachment push against then-Gov. Robert Bentley was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation for his role in a health care fraud case.
U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins handed down the sentence to former Rep. Ed Henry. The Hartselle Republican had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting theft of government property as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors said doctors agreed to improperly waive co-pays for certain Medicare patients with chronic conditions who enrolled in care management services provided by Henry’s company, MyPractice24. Waiving the required co-pays meant Medicare likely paid for services patients did not need or would have refused if they had to pay the $8 co-pay, prosecutors said.
“Henry and his co-defendants treated seriously ill patients as vehicles for getting money from the government,” U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin said in January when the plea deal was announced.
During the sentencing hearing in Montgomery federal court, Henry told the judge that he was unaware at the time that waiving the payments constituted a crime, but said he was “acutely aware” of that now.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Henry said he “will not get anywhere near that line again.”
The outspoken former legislator had initially vowed to fight the federal charges, but said he later realized the arrangement was wrong when doctors acknowledged the co-pays were not being properly paid.
“It’s difficult. You have to swallow a bit of pride and accept that you are not always perfect,” Henry said.
“We started providing chronic care management to these ill patients across this state. Our real passion was just to provide this safety net to take care of them.”
In discussing the plea agreement in court, prosecutors said Henry had agreed to provide assistance to the government but did not elaborate. Henry’s attorney, Max Pulliam, said after court that he could not discuss it because “the facts are under seal.”
A supplement to Henry’s plea agreement is under seal, according to federal court files.
Henry served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. He did not seek re-election in 2018.
He is perhaps best known in the Alabama Legislature for starting the impeachment push against Bentley. Henry filed impeachment articles accusing Bentley of willful neglect of duty and corruption in office.
Bentley later resigned from office.