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4 charged in Virginia nursing home fraud case

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Local,Virginia

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — Four former officials of a now-defunct southwest Virginia nursing home have been charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid by operating the facility without sufficient personnel and supplies.

Vendors and employees were defrauded, and residents of the Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation Center in Weber City lived in unsanitary conditions, a 71-count indictment said.

Three of the defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in Abingdon. They are Avi Klein, 45, of Miami Beach, Florida; Alicia Dietrich, 52, of Lancaster, Ohio; and Charles R. Menten, 62, of Wilton Manors, Florida. Klein owned and operated the center before closing it in 2012, according to the indictment. Dietrich was a vice president, and Menten was the facility's chief accountant.

The fourth defendant, Vickie Cox of Kingsport, Tennessee, will be arraigned Monday. Cox, 46, was the facility's administrator for a little more than two years.

Klein's attorney, Thomas Bondurant Jr., said the prosecution's case is based on a "worthless services fraud" theory sometimes used in civil suits but rarely in criminal cases.

"We believe it's an invalid theory for a criminal prosecution," he said. "Also, my client vigorously disputes a lot of the facts alleged in the indictment itself."

Menten's attorney, Michelle C.F. Derrico, said: "This is absolutely a case in which you will find there is more than one side to the story."

A jury trial has been scheduled for Jan. 5.

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