Not gulity. That’s the plea entered Thursday by an outspoken and high-profile North Alabama lawmaker.
Prosecutors with the US Attorney’s office say state representative Ed Henry paid illegal kickbacks from his company to doctors in a Medicare scheme.
Henry heard those criminal indictments unsealed Thursday morning in federal court in Montgomery.
He represents the 9th district which covers parts of Morgan, Marshall and Cullman counties.
WAAY 31 went to the Morgan County legislative office to see how people close to Henry are reacting to the indictment. Off camera, some people told WAAY 31 they’re having trouble letting this all sink in. They say Ed Henry is the epitome of an honest man.
We got the same reaction at Henry’s neighborhood.
“I was shocked.” Despite a sunny day, the news of Henry’s federal indictment was a dark cloud over the Hartselle neighborhood.
“We talk everyday,” Teresa Anders told WAAY 31. “We cut each other’s yards since we share a property line.”
Anders couldn’t believe what she heard.
Federal prosecutors say Henry’s company, MyPractice24, effectively became part of a pill mill by connecting patients with doctors who prescribed pain killers billed to Medicare.
Here are the charges:
6 counts of paying illegal kickbacks.
5 counts of health care fraud.
1 count of conspiring to commit health care fraud.
1 count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
1 count of conspiring to pay kickbacks to defraud the US government.
Anders says the man described by prosecutors sounds nothing like her next-door-neighbor.
“Mr. Henry, Wendy and his neighbors are excellent neighbors,” Anders told us. “I’ve watched his children grow up from being young children. They’re good Christian people.”
WAAY 31 knocked on Ed Henry’s door. No one answered. Neighbors say Henry was home. But, he had a bad day and was simply trying to regroup. But, without exception, every neighbor we talked with says they believe Ed Henry and they believe he’s a good man.
“Everyone in this block, in this neighborhood, think he’s a very good person.”
Anders wonders if the indictment might be political payback.
Henry was outspoken in his support of President Trump and he started the move to impeach Governor Roberty Bentley.
Those are actions Teresa Anders supported then and now.
“I still support Ed,” she told us. “I’m here for him. And I pray everything works out for him and his family because they are very decent people.”
After Thursday’s arraignment, Ed Henry signed a signature bond to remain free.
Henry announced last year that he wouldn’t be running for re-election.
Representative henry has issued a statement. It reads:
"I've always been as open and transparent as possible. For the last 8 years I have fought the government from further encroachment on our Freedoms. Today began my fight with the Federal Government for my freedom. So while I would like to lay everything on the table for all to see, that would not be wise while fighting an opponent that has endless resources like our Government. My goal was to help patients, and I did. Using a program established and promoted by Medicare, I helped chronically ill patients and save the taxpayers' money. For that, I have been charged with multiple Felonies. I am not guilty of any crimes."