Politics & Government

Medicaid investigator at the center of Bevin-Beshear flap put on paid leave

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, left, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, left, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right. File photo

A Medicaid fraud investigator in Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office whose actions prompted criticism last week by Gov. Matt Bevin has been put on special leave with pay for up to 60 days as he is investigated for possible employee misconduct.

The special leave for David “Reed” Wilbers started Monday, one workday after the Herald-Leader requested Wilbers’ state personnel file and almost a week after Bevin sent a text message to Beshear calling his office an “embarrassment” because of alleged misconduct by Wilbers.

“I would strongly suggest that you get your house in order,” Bevin said in his text, which provided a link to a news story about allegations of misconduct by Wilbers in a Medicaid fraud case in Boyle County. “Your office is becoming an increasing embarrassment to the commonwealth.”

In a later statement, Bevin went on to say that Beshear sets a bad example for his workers.

“Is it any wonder that multiple employees who work for the attorney general’s office have so little regard for the truth and the rule of law? Their poor example clearly comes from the attorney general himself,” Bevin said.

In a letter Monday to Wilbers, Beshear’s office told the merit employee he was being placed on special leave because he may have violated investigatory procedures and protocols in the Boyle County case. Wilbers’ annual salary is $43,376.

Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said Tuesday that Beshear sets high standards for all 209 employees in his office and that he took “decisive action” regarding Wilbers.

“When employees fail to meet these standards, we take action,” Sebastian said. “It is unfortunate that instead of governing, Gov. Bevin continues to spend his time attacking our court system, threatening state lawmakers and obsessing over the attorney general’s office.”

Beshear’s former top deputy, Tim Longmeyer, was sentenced last week to 70 months in federal prison for taking kickbacks from a contractor when he was secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear. A state investigation of Longmeyer continues.

Sebastian said Andy Beshear continues to call on Bevin to focus on issues that impact Kentucky families, such as child abuse, senior scams, sexual assault and drug abuse.

The Advocate-Messenger in Danville reported last week a judge dropped three charges of alleged Medicaid fraud against Edward Donzell Parker, the former owner of Bluegrass Autism in Danville, amid allegations that Wilbers made misleading statements to a grand jury.

A Boyle County grand jury decided earlier this year that a criminal case should proceed against Parker. Parker had to spend a weekend in the Boyle County Detention Center, the newspaper said.

The attorneys for Parker, in their motion to dismiss charges against him, alleged that Wilbers, who was the only prosecution witness to appear before the grand jury, made “patently false and misleading statements.”

The evidence entered by Parker’s attorneys cited another case in 2012 in which Wilbers allegedly “misled a grand jury while acting as an investigator for the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.” That case was dismissed by the Franklin Circuit Court, stating that Wilbers “made certain false and/or misleading statements to the grand jury to obtain an indictment.”

“Given Mr. Wilbers’ prior history related to a judicial finding that he gave false testimony to a grand jury, it is incredible that the prosecutors in this case allowed him to make similar statements,” the motion for Parker’s dismissal read. “It is equally incredible to believe that the prosecutors failed to advise the defendant and his counsel of Mr. Wilbers’ prior history with regards to his honesty and integrity as required by law.”

No record could be found in Wilbers’ state personnel file about any employment action taken against him in the Franklin County case.

The two-page letter from the attorney general’s office this week to Wilbers said that if the office’s investigation reveals no misconduct by him, all records related to the investigation will be purged from his employee file.

He was ordered to turn in any state-issued weapons, badges, credit cards, cellphones, keys to state property, state ID card and any other state government equipment he had.

Wilbers could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He has the right to appeal the leave to the state Personnel Board within 60 days.

According to his personnel file, Wilbers, 63, became a state investigator in January 2008 under then-Attorney General Jack Conway. He previously was a Georgetown police officer and deputy jailer in Scott County. He graduated from Atherton High School in Louisville and attended some college.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics