Nursing home owner says he spent Medicaid funds on strippers

Conditions got so bad in Benchmark Healthcare’s Festus, Missouri, nursing home that the state took the rare step of shutting it down and moving out its 60 residents last year—and its owner may have explained why in pleading guilty to two counts of fraud in federal court.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Johnnie Mac Sells admitted stealing $667,000 in Medicaid funds and spending it on strippers, country club fees and gambling. He’ll have to pay back all of it, and he could go to prison for up to three years after he’s sentenced on June 25.

According to an earlier investigation by the Post-Dispatch, while Sells was embezzling Medicaid funds, the nursing became a “dirty and dangerous place.” Food deliveries were cut off, trash piled up, paychecks bounced and residents weren’t given needed medications for conditions such as congestive heart failure, epilepsy and schizophrenia, all because pharmacy bills had gone unpaid while Sells spent $185,000 at strip clubs on Benchmark’s credit card.

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