SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Rita Hunter, a former public administrator in Jasper County, pleaded innocent Thursday in federal court to the 12 counts of fraud and misuse of public funds that she is facing.
Hunter was arraigned before Judge James England in U.S. District Court in Springfield on the charges contained in an indictment handed up Dec. 15 by a federal grand jury. The indictment comprises two counts each of theft of public money, health care fraud, Social Security fraud and Medicaid fraud, and four counts of document fraud.
The indictment alleges that Hunter illegally obtained almost $200,000 in federal Medicaid and Social Security benefits for her wards while serving as public administrator from 2005 through 2008, and then used those proceeds to subsidize the operation of her office.
The alleged violations involve 14 wards designated by Jasper County Circuit Court to be placed under Hunter’s care. The wards were mostly mentally disabled or indigent residents of the county.
Hunter was represented by federal public defender Ian Lewis at her arraignment. She remains free on a personal recognizance bond pending trial.
Ex-public administrator arraigned on 12 counts in federal indictment
January 5, 2012
The Joplin Globe