A former state Medicaid audit administrator who bilked the program and his 85-year-old father of nearly $300,000 got 16 months in federal prison for it Thursday.

At the hearing in Omaha, Chief U.S. District Judge John Gerrard also ordered Craig A. Barnett to pay restitution of $276,878, in addition to the prison term, plus three years of supervised release.

Barnett, of Lincoln, is being allowed to turn himself in to the Bureau of Prisons on Oct. 23.

In January, he pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for the scheme.

At the time of the fraud, Barnett was working at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as the administrator of the Medicaid Audit and Financial Support Division.

In court records, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Franklin said that after Barnett's mother died in 2010, his father granted him power of attorney over his affairs, sold his home and moved to a nursing home in Elkhorn on Dec. 26, 2014.

By Nov. 15, 2016, his father's account at the nursing home was $118,000 in arrears and, later that month, he was approved for Nebraska Medicaid.

In the meantime, Franklin said, Barnett used the power of attorney, which he held until Aug. 5, 2016, to take his father's pension, retiree grant payments and payments from mutual funds, while spending only a portion of it on his father's expenses.

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Prosecutors said Barnett spent the rest on himself.

Franklin said the money included $75,000 in monthly checks from the Broadcasters Foundation of America approved for his father, a news industry retiree, based on financial need; $45,000 from his mutual funds account; $13,872 from his pension; and $113,858 in Social Security Administration checks.

Barnett left his administrator job at DHHS, where he'd worked for more than 11 years, on Sept. 30, 2016, and was working as a financial associate at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Business Center when he entered the plea. He no longer is employed there.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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