MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama State Rep. Ed Henry, 47, has issued a statement hours after becoming the fourteenth defendant to be indicted in connection with an ongoing federal pill mill case in Montgomery.
Henry made his first appearance in federal court in Montgomery Thursday and was arraigned, pleading not guilty to all charges. The indictment charges Henry with conspiracy to pay kickbacks to defraud the United States, in connection to a former well-known physician's office in Montgomery, Family Practice, which remains the center of a major federal pill mill investigation.
Henry's attorney, Max Pulliam, said his client's services provided help to those who are sick while also saving the U.S. money and added that those facts will come out at trial. Pulliam expects the case to go to trial, which is slated to begin in October.
Henry was not detained following Thursday's hearing. He was released on a signature bond. He had no comment upon leaving the courthouse but later issued a statement that reads:
According to federal court records, the charges stem from a corporation formed by Henry, MyPractice24, that provided chronic care management services for Medicare Part B recipients. That corporation provided services to Family Practice between March 2016 through June 2017, according to federal court records.
The indictment charges Henry with:
- One count of conspiring to pay kickbacks and to defraud the United States.
- Six counts of paying unlawful kickbacks
- One count of conspiring to commit health care fraud
- Five counts of health care fraud
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Dr. Gilberto Sanchez, who owned Family Practice, was arrested in 2017 and subsequently pleaded guilty to charges related to prescribing opioids, tests, and procedures that were medically unnecessary for financial gain. Subsequently, three doctors, three nurse practitioners, nurses, and administrators have been charged with drug distribution and health care fraud. Eight of the fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty.
"MyPractice24 would provide various kickbacks to Sanchez and his staff in return for the providers at Sanchez's practice referring Medicare beneficiaries to MyPractice24 for chronic care management services", the U.S. Attorney's Office stated in a news release. "Among the kickbacks provided were direct payments to a member of the staff, free chronic care management services, free medical billing services, and free clinical services unrelated to the provision of chronic care management services. Additionally, Henry assisted Dr. Sanchez in paying kickbacks to patients who enrolled in the chronic care management program. Sanchez paid these kickbacks by systematically waiving copays, copays which Medicare required Sanchez to collect."
The charges against Henry aren't related to his official position as a lawmaker. A check with the public information office of the Alabama House confirmed Henry has not made any statement on his seat. He did not seek re-election so his term will expire at midnight on election night unless first convicted of a felony. In that case, he would be automatically removed from office upon conviction.
Henry represents District 9 in the Alabama House of Representatives covering Cullman, Marshall, and Morgan Counties in north Alabama.
Henry has been a vocal member of the state Republican Party. He filed articles of impeachment against former Gov. Robert Bentley, defended former Chief Justice Roy Moore amid allegations of sexual misconduct during Moore's high-profile run for Congress, and served as the co-chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
We've reached out to the Alabama Republican party for comment.