A St. Louis woman was sentenced on July 30 after pleading guilty to fraud charges. According to reports, the woman had been employed from 2004 to 2013 as the chief executive officer of Southeast Missouri Health Network, a nonprofit agency operating fitness centers and medical and dental offices.

Some of the allegations against the woman included providing inside information to a contractor who was bidding on a building job for one of the clinics in exchange for kickback payments. The contractor was reportedly chosen for the job even though he had a less than stellar work history.

As part of the plea deal, the 56-year-old woman admitted to falsifying grant applications with the U.S. Department of Health and Human services as well as annual reports. She also reportedly used money from Southeast Missouri Network to buy gifts and a new roof for one of her buildings. It was also claimed that the woman wrote checks to employees in exchange for cash back. Because she entered in a guilty plea in April, the woman was sentenced to just less than three years in prison.

While pleading guilty to fraud or other charges may not be a defendant’s first choice, it is one criminal defense option. A plea deal can often result in lesser charges, meaning less severe penalties, and it also means that the defendant can avoid the time-consuming process of a trial completely. Pleading guilty to crimes can have serious and far-reaching consequences, however, and defendants considering this options should ensure they have a full understanding of what happens after the plea is entered.

Source: The Washington Times, “Former health agency CEO sentenced for fraud” Jul. 30, 2014