A suspect in a $41 million health care scheme with ties to North Alabama pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
Don Hankins, a Madison County resident and business owner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
According to court documents, Hankins, "working through his company 902 Medical, LLC, paid illegal kickbacks which caused the submission of claims to Medicare and TRICARE resulting in the payment of at least $899,321.47 to the three pharmacies. In return for these referrals, the pharmacies paid the defendant at least $357,875.40"
The plea agreement says Hankins also paid kickbacks to North Alabama Pain Services, operated by Mark Murphy and Jennifer Murphy, to be able to do business with the company and receive referrals from the business. Some of those kickbacks came in the form of gift cards to expensive steakhouses.
Hankins, along with seven others, was charged in the scheme, which the government says defrauded health care benefit programs for services that were medically unnecessary.
Hankins faces up to five years in prison. In the plea agreement, it says he is ordered to pay $357,875.49 in restitution. He also agreed to provide information and testimony concerning the scheme.
His sentencing hearing has not been set yet.