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Cardwell pleads guilty to three felonies

Paul D. Cardwell has pleaded guilty to three felony charges for defrauding Powell Valley Healthcare out of nearly $848,000 in 2011 and a Monticello, Ind., hospital out of roughly the same amount between 2003 and 2009.

The former CEO entered guilty pleas to counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud during a Wednesday morning hearing in federal court in Cheyenne.

The guilty pleas were part of a deal Cardwell has reached with the Wyoming U.S. Attorney’s Office, but details of the agreement will not be disclosed until sentencing. He is set to be sentenced on Dec. 23 before U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal.

Cardwell defrauded Powell Valley Healthcare and White County Memorial Hospital in Monticello by pretending money was going toward recruiting staff, prosecutors have said. In actuality, Cardwell’s “recruiter” was his friend, Michael J. Plake of West Lafayette, Ind., and the two men were simply pocketing the hospitals’ money.

The scheme fell apart in the summer of 2011, when Powell Valley Healthcare officials and their auditors began questioning the large payments to Plake.

Criminal charges followed in March of 2012.

Plake was ultimately cooperative with law enforcement, but Cardwell fled to Thailand while free on bond. Cardwell was caught in June and extradited back to the United States.

Plake is serving a 30-month prison sentence for his role in the scheme, while Cardwell continues to be held in federal custody without bond pending his sentencing hearing.

A more complete story about Wednesday’s hearing will follow in a future edition of the Tribune.

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