Nursing Home Owner Pleads Guilty To Spending Medicaid Funds On Strippers, Casinos, Pet Care

Tyler Durden's picture

Johnnie Mac Sells, 52, the owner of a suburban St. Louis nursing home where 60 residents had to be rescued after food ran out and trash piled up, has pleaded guilty to federal charges for stealing $667,000 from Medicaid and spending it on strippers, gambling and other things. Sells pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of health care fraud, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He could get up to three years in prison when he's sentenced July 25 and he has to pay back what he stole.

The Benchmark Healthcare nursing home in Festus was shut down last summer. Authorities said bills went unpaid, paychecks bounced, trash piled up and food deliveries stopped.

A view of an office inside the Benchmark Healthcare nursing
home on Highway TT in Festus

As AP adds, Missouri health officials in July sought to put Benchmark into emergency receivership. They backed down when food deliveries resumed, but an August follow-up visit found that four residents were not getting medicines they needed for congestive heart failure, epilepsy and schizophrenia because pharmacy bills hadn't been paid. Then in September, the state officially closed the nursing home and relocated its residents.

Prosecutors on Wednesday revealed that for three years starting in 2013, Sells stole a large portion of funds provided by Medicaid for Benchmark residents. He used Benchmark's debit card to pay $185,000 at adult entertainment clubs and $15,000 on pet care, $4,500 at casinos and $12,000 at his country club.

Oh, and he was also a drug addict: Sells' attorney, Scott Rosenblum, told Judge John A. Ross that his client struggled with drug and alcohol addiction but had been sober "for some time."

View down one of the hallways in the Benchmark Healthcare nursing home

Nothing remains of the nursing home empire, Legacy Health Systems, established in 1938 in southeast Missouri by Sells' grandmother, Clara Sells. The business had expanded into a $100 million company with 27 facilities across Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee before its collapse.

The business had expanded into a $100 million company with 2,000 patients and 1,600 employees in 27 facilities across Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee before its collapse. In recent years, Legacy sold almost all of its assets or had them seized by creditors. The Festus location was one of three homes left in the company’s portfolio. At the time of the Benchmark closing, about 200 residents lived at its two remaining facilities in Sikeston, Mo., and Puryear, Tenn

* * *

And finally the cherry on top: Sells also is also due to stand trial in St. Charles County in June on charges of domestic abuse and sexual misconduct.

Prosecutors say he slammed his girlfriend through a glass coffee table and exposed his genitals to her 12-year-old son. Sells told the Post-Dispatch last year that he "didn't beat anybody."

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kenny500c's picture

And the rest of the money he just plain wasted.

cougar_w's picture

I would comment, but there is no topping that!

CheapBastard's picture

M&M fraud is rampant. When I was living in Houston back in about 2000, I remember them catching a chiropracter and a handful of doctor accomplices who had ripped off M&M by over $20 million if I remember correctly.

It's pretty disgusting since the money they steal could be used to help Americans who really need it. In China, if these guys were caught they would have gotten the death penalty in some provinces.

ne-tiger's picture

Visited couple of those nursing homes several times because of friends. What a scam: they charge like 15k per month with fucking do nothing nurses and all those sad old people waiting to die there. That's exactly what's wrong with this for profit, money grabbing industry.

I would die instead of going there.

markovchainey's picture

$15k/mo?  I'd rather have a nice heroin habit than be stuck in one of those hell holes.  Quicker and more pleasant, relatively, death...

NoDebt's picture

My wife works at a nursing home/rehab type place.  The stories she tells me would turn your hair white.  Abuse of residents, life-ending drug mix-ups (yeah, people dying because of drug mistakes of either type or dosage) and my personal favorite- narcotics theft by employees.  Instead of calling the authorities to deal with the bad actors they sweep it all under the rug and no reports are ever filed.  Why?  Because the place would get a bad rap if they did.

They got one employee who was caught THREE TIMES stealing narcotics from the place.  Sent them away to a "rehab" for a month the first time.  Did it two more times after that.  Still working there.  Probably still stealing.  

Although the place looks clean on paper, everyone in the area knows the real deal.  The only patients they get any more are drug-seeking system abusers from Philly and Chester getting paid for by the government.  Some of them are violent.  Some of them like to leave for the weekend (unannounced) to go smoke crack and then come back again after they run out of money.  

Good times, huh?

y3maxx's picture

-and what's wrong with this....could've been way worse.

He could have Human Trafficked the seniors out as slaves.

NoDebt's picture

"He could have Human Trafficked the seniors out as slaves."

They gotta be in the bed or the joint doesn't get paid.  Otherwise, I'm sure it would already be happening.


benb's picture

The problem with you guys is that you are behind the times. Johnnie Mac Sells was merely living the new American Dream. Government money is how the small neo-entrepreneurs succeed. Just because Johnnie had a streak of bad luck at the crap tables doesn't mean  he shouldn't be allowed to play. I mean look at the U.S.Congress... 

Bigly's picture

They rape the bed bound women.

It could be your grandma.  Think about that for a spell.


Laddie's picture

Sadly that is true. I recall in NC old white men and women being horribly abused, sexually and otherwise, sometimes unto death by people of color who worked at these homes.

There was a time, and I remember it, when children took care of parents and grandparents. But those were the BAD OLD DAYS or so we are told.

This pervert, if guilty, in a GODLY nation would be strung up at the public square. But what was ONCE a Christian nation has gone the way of Babylon, and here is how:

It is difficult to exaggerate the role played by television in shaping the mindset and outlook of the American people. Dr. George Gerbner, former Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, put it this way: "Television, more than any single institution, molds American behavioral norms and values. And the more TV we watch, the more we tend to believe in the world according to TV, even though much of what we see is misleading."

This is hardly surprising given that, as cultivation theory and social learning theory postulate, exposure to media content leads to increased sympathy for the values embedded in the content, as well as an increased propensity to regard the fictional portrayals as representations of reality.

Jenji Kohan and the Jewish Hyper-Sexualization of Western Culture
Mind Pollution — The Promotion of Sexual Perversion on National TV: The Case of Jenji Kohan

pliny the longer's picture

you said "There was a time, and I remember it, when children took care of parents and grandparents. But those were the BAD OLD DAYS or so we are told." 


while this is good for you, perhaps you may have noticed there is an entire generation of people whose parents did nothing for them.  whose parents were abusive.  whose parents were pathological narcissists.  whose parents gave no regard to anything but themselves, their happiness, etc.  has it ever occurred to you, that generation has a hard enough time preparing themselves for the rigors of life, of payng their own way?  its a very round world, friend. 

dogbreath's picture

Thanks for that comment.  It describes my family.  My father who recently passed never bought me lunch once in my life.  He expected that I should know what the right thing to do is while setting a poor example himself.  But he could alway yell  and beat and dictate.  While he was alive " stuff " ruled his life and when he died my mother is turning it all into cash.  I am laughing as they collected some nice things that could be considered heirloom quality and the grandkids would be proud to say " grandpa Dogbreath built those "  but there ain't no grand kids so all that stuff that was all important to them will end up in an estate auction.  My older sister who threw her siblings under the bus at every opportunity apparently want to leave her hoard to a scholarship fund for women.  All my familys stuff will go to strangers.  My mother sold my fathers carpentry workshop for pennies on the dollar for what it would cost to replace.  Stupid narcicisstic assholes

Implied Violins's picture

Maybe the guy just didn't want to live to get old - having seen it all first-hand. I can think of worse ways to die - that don't take others with me, at least.

techpriest's picture

Nothing wrong with profits. Profits simply mean that you can provide something that people want that's so good that people would pay you more than what it costs you to provide it.

Everything wrong with the kids dumping off their own parents, never talking to them again, and never asking questions about what happens there.

And, everything wrong with public funding authorities not holding these people accountable. If you aren't going to make sure the money goes to the right places, then don't run the program and funnel money to criminals.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Cruise ships are a lot cheaper than nursing homes.  An when the residents expire it's cheap to dispose of the bodies.

Bigly's picture

My first job was in one.

I promised myself i would NEVER end up in one.

I hope i have my marbles enough to ensure i do end up in one in any circumstance. Degrading.

Overdose is preferable 

SoDamnMad's picture

When he goes to jail and hopefully for  a long time, feed him catfood. Let his pick his favorite flavor on the first of every month.  Meow

junction's picture

His big mistake was not getting a corporate job on Wall Street, where his behavior would be considered business as usual.

booboo's picture

well he could have been white and have Eric DickHolder breathing down his neck.

SloMoe's picture
"Spending Medicaid Funds On Strippers, Casinos"

Wait, is this the new Trumpcare or the old Obamacare? Either way, I'm feeling better already...

BryanM's picture
W. C. Fields: “I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.”
kenny500c's picture

Thanks bud, I knew I had heard it somewhere before.

pugilist's picture

maybe he was buying strippers for the nursing home residents?

SomethingSomethingDarkSide's picture

"I'm getting all the medicine I need!  Oh, the Heart Congestion pills?  No, those ran out - but check out these hurr titties! I feel better already."

E.F. Mutton's picture

They say it like its a bad thing

Rainman's picture

Anybody named Johnnie Mac sounds like a party to me.

serotonindumptruck's picture

"Sells also is also due to stand trial in St. Charles County in June on charges of domestic abuse and sexual misconduct."


Just imagine all of the crazy sex one might acquire in a nursing home environment!

Sign me up, Grandma!

how_this_stuff_works's picture

"Just imagine all of the crazy sex one might acquire in a nursing home environment!"

Just about a month or so ago CNN had several articles posted about elderly women being victimized in nursing homes.

Really, it's nothing to joke about, unless maybe it's YOUR mother who's being abused. Would that be as funny to you?

serotonindumptruck's picture

Would that be as funny to you?

Of course not!

Unless she liked it!

(Go fuck yourself and your lack of a sense of humor)

If you think this type of sick shit is commonplace, and you want to do something about it, might I suggest a local Victim's Advocacy organization?

how_this_stuff_works's picture

Listen Asshat, I spent three years guarding my dad from a "good" nursing home. The first facility--new and shiny--just about sedated him into eternity the first time I took my mom for a weekend away.

But you're right, where the reprehensible care our nation's elders receive at the hands of their "caregivers" is concerned, I don't have a sense of humor.

As far as advocacy, I did my time providing for elderly parents, including caring for a mom bedridden in my home for four years. I suggest you STFU.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I have isolated STDs from nursing home patients. I cringe every time wondering if I will be subpoenaed. So far, no but I still wonder what is the situation.

I hope your dad is ok. Mine died suddenly when I was 21. I was devastated I didn't have a chance to say goodbye but I am happy for him he didn't experience the atrocities some are experiencing in these care centers.


how_this_stuff_works's picture

Both now have been made whole. They're with the Lord. Thank you for your kind concern.

Most elders aren't placed in facilities frivolously, and adult children have to bear what can be agonizing pain of experiencing what Nancy Reagan termed, The Long Good-bye. After what we went through trying to protect my dad and give him the best existence possible--'cause it certainly isn't "a life," I was unable to place my mom in a facility. To even think that had I done so, and my sweet, loving mother would have been sexually abused by someone I was paying to take care of her, well, I'd be in prison now doing time for murder.

booboo's picture

Do they make an edible Depends?

Cman5000's picture

Well you know ? 

aliens is here's picture

He is not going to pay the money back. Where is he going to find the money?

CheapBastard's picture

The DOJ should double the budget for a Health Care Fraud dept and hire a few retired doctors and more lawyers and investigators and go after these fraudsters. I suspect there's alot of fraud in hospital administration areas also.

thelastword's picture

It's a revolving door, no one wants to find anything because they want to leave government service for a nice VP job.  I have seen this in public health.  

It really is a conspiracy to ensure that there is no govenment service of quality left so everyone is scared and runs to private  and or the health services are purposely mismanaged so that there is a host of reasons for privatization and those responsible for the debacle are rewarded with do nothing jobs that pay well.

I can tell you with out reservation that disease management can be done very cost effectively as a government a service with high cure rates  in infectious disease and good long term management but it does not benefit the political machine which appoints the administration that is ultimately looking from day one for an ott sized pay off from private contractors for destroying this important option.  Judas only took 20 pieces of silver these gus take a lot more once they manage to destroy the infrastructure.


reTARD's picture

Come on... his name is Johnnie Mac Sells.

Hungman's picture

Hookers and blow.

shimmy's picture

185k at a strip club? Yikes. I just don't understand the appeal with going to a strip club. If you want to see some naked chicks then go online. 

serotonindumptruck's picture

Or spend 10K for a night with a high-class hooker or two, and have a few 8-balls sitting on the table in your Best Western suite.

No, this guy was a cheapskate. He wanted to spread the graft out for awhile.


wisehiney's picture

Moron did not even enjoy it.

Wahooo's picture

Better call Saul!

holdbuysell's picture

Quintessential status quo: lie, cheat, steal.