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Health Official Is Arrested on Graft Charge

May 04, 2000|From Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The deputy state health commissioner was charged Wednesday with accepting a $1,000 bribe from a nursing home operator to help the home qualify for federal funds. The state's attorney general said he expects more arrests to follow.

Atty. Gen. Drew Edmondson said the case involved not just financial fraud but also rule violations by nursing homes that could have endangered the lives of elderly and incapacitated residents.

The deputy health commissioner, Brent VanMeter, 46, was led from Health Department offices in handcuffs by the FBI on Tuesday afternoon as investigators searched six locations, including the Health Department, VanMeter's home and unspecified private businesses. Several boxes were removed from VanMeter's home.

VanMeter had been in charge of his agency since April 24, when Commissioner J. R. Nida went on medical leave after surgery.

The FBI, which began the investigation in 1996, alleges that VanMeter solicited and accepted a payoff to qualify a nursing home operator for federal subsidies.

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