Cardwell, who had been living in Thailand, was required to give up his passport as a condition of his bond, as was Plake.
They appeared in court voluntarily last week and were not taken into custody.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal. If the case goes to trial, it will be held in her Cheyenne courtroom.
The 15-count indictment from the Grand Jury, handed down March 15, alleges a scheme between the two men that began in March. That’s when Cardwell allegedly told PVHC’s director of recruiting, Mike Gilmore, that he’d be handling all physician recruitment. The indictment alleges that was part of a fraudulent billing scheme in which Cardwell would send money to a limited liability company created by Plake, called Plake and Associates, and claim it was for Plake to do recruiting.
In reality, Plake — who has a background in music and religious education — was to pocket 25 percent of the money and send 75 percent back to Cardwell, the indictment says.
Cardwell had Powell Valley Healthcare pay $847,884 to Plake and Associates via 12 checks, according to the allegations. Those checks, sent via Federal Express, are the basis for the 12 counts of mail fraud. The payments allegedly began with a $57,200 check to Plake and Associates in April 2011 and concluded with a $90,638 check on Sept. 20, 2011.
Plake allegedly kicked the money to Cardwell via checks and overseas wire transfers. Plake also transferred some of the money to himself via an overseas wire transfer, the indictment says, related to the count of money laundering.
On Sept. 25, with PVHC auditors questioning the payments to Plake, the two men allegedly exchanged an email containing fabricated invoices and contracts between Plake and Associates and Powell Valley Healthcare — constituting the count of wire fraud.
On Sept. 26, Cardwell resigned, though he later asked to rescind his resignation, citing “deceitful” communications from HealthTech. HealthTech is suing Cardwell in connection with the embezzlement allegations.
Though Cardwell and Plake were arraigned last Tuesday, the Clerk of District Court’s Office in Cheyenne did not unseal the case file until after press time Wednesday.
Plake, a youth minister at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center serving Purdue University, has been placed on paid leave while the case is pending, Fr. Patrick Baikauskus told local TV station WLFI.
“It’s very sad,” Baikauskus said of the situation, adding that, “in charity, we presume that he (Plake) is innocent until any other disposition.”
Plake’s attorney, Sean Barrett of Cheyenne, declined to comment on the case when reached Monday. He cited ethics rules which limit statements attorneys can make outside of the courtroom.
On Saturday, Plake posted a passage of scripture from the book of Jeremiah on his Facebook wall without comment.
“All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ... But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion,” says a portion of the scripture Plake posted. “O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my case.”
The scripture, from Jeremiah 20:10-13, was a portion of the Roman Catholic lectionary — or scripture reading — for March 30. Plake has not posted other scripture readings on his public profile recently.
Meanwhile, officials at the Monticello, Ind., hospital Cardwell helmed before coming to Powell said they are opening an investigation into his time there.
“We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation of Paul Cardwell,” said Carrie North, a spokesman for Indiana University Health Arnett, in a statement to the Monticello Herald Journal. IU Health acquired the White County Memorial Hospital in April 2011; Cardwell took an early retirement from the facility in February 2010.
“Although Mr. Cardwell has never been an employee of IU Health White Memorial Hospital, we are moving forward with our investigation, as well,” North said.
A message left for Cardwell’s attorney, Robert Horn of Jackson, was not returned.
The 15 counts carry a maximum combined penalty of 290 years in prison and $3.75 million in fines. However, under federal sentencing guidelines, the two men would likely face only a fraction of those penalties if convicted, given their apparent lack of prior criminal history and other factors.