The former chief financial officer at Provident Hospital, Chicago, pleaded guilty to confirming false invoices and taking kickbacks in a fraud scheme. According to a plea agreement, the former CFO, Earl Bell, received $12,500 from Mary Payne, owner of two healthcare staffing agencies, after vouching for phony invoices she submitted to sell nonexistent accounts receivable to financial institutions between 1998 and 2001. Bell repeatedly lied to financers who sought verification that Payne's staffing firms were owed money by Cook County-owned Provident, according to the agreement. Bell faces up to five years in prison and $341,783 in restitution. Payne and her then-husband Anthony Payne also pleaded guilty to the scheme and face prison time and restitution of $2.4 million and $1.7 million, respectively. At deadline, none of the three could be reached for comment. Bell's attorney, Anita Rivkin-Carothers, said his deal with prosecutors did not include an agreement to cooperate. His sentencing is set for Jan. 24, 2006. -- by Melanie Evans
Former Chicago hospital CFO pleads guilty to fraud
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