A former Medicaid administrator for the State of Nebraska swindled the state’s Medicaid program out of $84,000 and stole nearly $277,000 from his father.

For that, Craig A. Barnett of Lincoln was sentenced this week to 16 months in jail and three years of post-prison supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $276,878 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard sentenced Barnett, 62, to the term. Barnett had pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. He faced up to 20 years in prison on each count.

After his mother died in 2010, Barnett stole the money from his father, Dean — redirecting pension checks to Craig Barnett’s home and falsely claiming that his father had no income beyond Social Security.

Dean Barnett was a radio broadcaster for KFNF, the first commercial station in Shenandoah, Iowa, before moving to Omaha and working for several radio stations. Following his radio career, he was a longtime account executive at KETV-Channel 7.

Craig Barnett — who was working as a Medicaid administrator for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services — began embezzling from his father shortly after the elder Barnett moved to an Elkhorn-area assisted-living center. Craig Barnett had been given power of attorney for his father, then in his mid-80s, because of his father’s deteriorating health.

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One example of Craig Barnett’s fraud: In 2012, he had lunch with the president of the Broadcasters Foundation of America and convinced him to send his father’s retirement checks to Craig’s Lincoln home rather than to his father.

Craig Barnett stole other income generated by his father’s longtime broadcasting work, including: $113,858 in Social Security, $13,872 from KETV’s pension plan, $75,000 in payments from the Broadcasters Foundation of America and $65,000 from a mutual fund.

He also kept some of the proceeds from the sale of his father’s Omaha home and falsely claimed that his father’s only income was from Social Security, a claim that resulted in $84,000 in improper Medicaid payouts to his father.

He used some of the stolen funds to purchase a new home and a car, without his father’s knowledge, said U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly.

The fraud was discovered by Nebraska’s Public Guardian Office, formed by state officials after rampant embezzlement by a western Nebraska guardian and after The World-Herald exposed rampant embezzlement by an Omaha guardian.

Prompted by the state guardian’s office, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services helped investigate.

As part of his sentence, Craig Barnett’s restitution will go to his father, the State of Nebraska and the assisted-living facility where his father still resides.

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Reporter - Courts

Todd Cooper covers courts, lawyers, trials, legal issues, the justice system and government wrongdoing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @CooperonCourts. Phone: 402-444-1275.

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