Watchdog

Former state inspector, nurse to be arraigned Friday in free-rent case

One of the state's former top nursing home inspectors and a former Cabinet for Health and Family Services nurse will be arraigned Friday on federal charges involving accusations that they had an unethical relationship with a nursing home operator and tried to cover it up.

Both Moses Young, an assistant director with the Office of Inspector General, and Sharon Harris, a nurse with the Department for Public Health, were fired by the state in 2008 after investigators learned they each lived in Lexington homes owned by Ralph Stacey Jr.

At the time, Stacey also owned Garrard Convalescent Home in Covington, according to documents previously released by the cabinet.

Young is charged with theft or bribery involving programs that receive federal funds, conspiracy to defraud the government and providing false documents to a federal grand jury, according to a U.S. District Court clerk.

Harris is charged with conspiracy to defraud the government and giving a false statement to the FBI, the clerk said.

An April 1 indictment refers to a third party in the case who rented property to Young and Harris as "R.S."

The indictment says that from July 2005 to March 2008, Young lived rent-free in a condominium owned by R.S. and, in exchange, provided R.S. with "inside agency information and instructions that would assist R.S. in passing inspections and obtaining favorable treatment with regard to administrative actions of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services."

In summer 2008, the indictment says, Harris called R.S. and said she needed his help. She arranged a meeting at River Downs Thoroughbred race track in Cincinnati "to discuss getting their stories straight in the face of a federal investigation into allegations that" R.S. provided Young and Harris free rent.

About Sept. 4, 2008, R.S. responded to a federal grand jury subpoena by submitting fake rent receipts, the indictment said.

According to the indictment, the fake receipts had been prepared by R.S. and Young in February or March 2008 in response to a state inspector general investigation.

In January 2009, Young "caused" his attorney, who is not named in the indictment, to deliver the receipts in response to a federal grand jury subpoena, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges that on April 3, 2009, Harris met with FBI Special Agent Clay Mason and a federal prosecutor in Frankfort and provided false information about the rent. She told the federal officials that she repeatedly transported cash for Young to R.S. as payment of rent and obtained receipts that she delivered to Young.

The count of theft or bribery against Young carries a sentence of not more than 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years' supervised released. Each of the other counts against Young and Harris carries a sentence of not more than five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.

The arraignment will be held in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Young, Harris and Stacey could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin said Thursday that Young and Harris have appealed their firings.

Garrard Convalescent Home changed ownership in August 2009. The nursing home no longer exists under that name. The beds previously assigned to Garrard have been relocated to another Covington nursing home, said Cabinet spokeswoman Beth Fisher.

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