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August 13, 2013 8:58 am

Paul Cardwell seeking plea deal

Written by CJ Baker

Suspected thief admits to fleeing country; trial may not be needed

At a Friday hearing in Cheyenne, Paul Cardwell admitted he fled the country last year while facing charges that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Powell Valley Healthcare.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal revoked Cardwell’s bond and ordered him held in federal custody until the case is resolved. Freudenthal had kept Cardwell in custody pending Friday’s hearing.

Cardwell, 47, is alleged to have stolen close to $848,000 from Powell Valley Healthcare while employed as the organization’s chief executive officer between March and September 2011.

He allegedly made it appear as though the money was going toward recruiting staff. In actuality, prosecutors say Cardwell and a friend in Indiana, Michael J. Plake, were just pocketing the money.

The two men allegedly ran the same scheme at a hospital in Monticello, Ind., between 2003 and 2009, taking in a similar amount of money.

Cardwell pleaded not guilty to 13 felony counts related to the Wyoming allegations in March 2012 and was released on bond. Authorities realized he’d gone missing late that August.

After nine months at large, Cardwell was found in Hua Hin, Thailand, and arrested on June 7.

A Sept. 30 trial date has been scheduled for Cardwell in federal court in Cheyenne, but it may not be necessary.

John Powell, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Cardwell’s attorney, James Voyles, told Judge Freudenthal on Friday “that he and Mr. Cardwell would be entering into negotiations with the government, and he didn’t believe a trial would be necessary.”

Documents filed by prosecutors indicate that when Cardwell fled, the deal on the table was for a prison sentence between two and three-and-a-half years; a court filing from Cardwell’s attorneys last year said the deal also was going to require Cardwell to disclose all of his assets.

It’s unclear what impact Cardwell’s flight will have on plea negotiations this time around.

On Friday in court, Cardwell admitted to the basic facts of his escape: that he unsuccessfully tried to get a passport under his birth name of Paul Sappington in June 2012, then took his brother-in-law’s passport and left the United States that July.

Cardwell had been free on a $50,000 unsecured bond when he absconded. Since it was unsecured, Cardwell did not have to put any money down before being released, but the government now has the option of seeking $50,000 from him.

“As of today, we have not asked for that, but we are contemplating it,” Powell said.

Plake was sentenced to 30 months in prison earlier this year for his role in the scheme and ordered to help pay back the nearly $1.7 million taken in Powell and Indiana.

Cardwell and Plake also are being sued by Powell Valley Healthcare and its management company, HealthTech Management Services, over the fraudulent scheme.

Freudenthal already has ruled in favor of Powell Valley Healthcare and HealthTech after the two men failed to defend themselves. A trial in the civil case — effectively to determine how much Cardwell and Plake will have to pay — currently is scheduled to begin on Oct. 15.

3 comments

  • Comment Link August 13, 2013 2:35 pm posted by clipstein

    when are they going to arrest the rest?

  • Comment Link August 14, 2013 8:46 pm posted by SuperSixOne

    Plea deals... and the cowards who accept them. Sickening.

  • Comment Link August 16, 2013 2:06 pm posted by doug maiko

    does this mean that Paul and I will be playing golf again in pattaya thailand? he was quite the conman lol

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