By Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Rita Hunter, former Jasper County public administrator, pleaded guilty to document fraud today in U.S. Federal Court in Springfield.
Hunter, 60, who served a single term as administrator ending in 2008, entered a plea to the charge related to illegally obtaining federal benefits, that was contained in a Dec. 14, 2011 federal indictment.
By pleading guilty, Hunter admitted to a scheme involving a total fraud of $70,000 to $120,000, according to a release from the federal court. She directed her employees to submit materially false Medicaid applications for wards under the custody of the public administrator’s office. The applications falsely stated the wards had assets below the $1,000 threshold to be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits, when in fact the wards had assets of more than $1,000.
Under federal statutes, Hunter is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order or restitution.