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May 07, 2013 8:40 am

Prison time for man who helped Cardwell defraud hospitals

Written by CJ Baker

An Indiana man will serve two-and-a-half years in federal prison for his role in defrauding hospitals in Powell and Monticello, Ind., out of more than $1.69 million.

On Monday, Michael J. Plake of West Lafayette, Ind., received a 30-month prison sentence from Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal for two counts of conspiring to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiring to launder money.

Two counts related to Plake’s role in conning Powell Valley Healthcare out of nearly $848,000 in 2011, while the other related to the part he played in taking more than $800,000 from the then-White County Memorial Hospital in Indiana between 2003 and 2008.

Paul Cardwell, the former CEO at both the Powell and Indiana hospitals, reportedly ran the scheme by claiming Plake was the leader of a staff recruiting firm called Plake and Associates.

In actuality, Plake did no recruiting. He has admitted that he simply pocketed 25 percent of the money and kicked the remaining 75 percent back to Cardwell.

Officials in White County — now IU Health White Memorial Hospital — apparently were unaware of the misappropriations there until Powell Valley Healthcare officials caught on to Cardwell and Plake’s scheme in late summer 2011.

Plake pleaded guilty to the three felonies as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that included another 13 counts related to the Powell scheme being dropped.

After completing the 30 months of prison time, Plake will be placed on supervised release for three years and he must work to pay back the $1.69 million he helped pilfer.

Cardwell pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in March 2012, but he dropped off the map in late August 2012. He hasn’t been heard from since and is considered a fugitive. Cardwell had been free on an unsecured $50,000 bond — meaning he was not required to put down any money — set by U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl. Plake was also released on a $50,000 unsecured bond but has followed his conditions over the past year.

A more complete story about the sentence will follow in an upcoming edition of the Tribune.

Editor's note: This version corrects the number of charges against Plake that were dismissed to 13, not 12.

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