Klepinger found guilty on charge of mail fraud

Juneau businessman could face retrial on other charges

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2001

Federal prosecutors said they haven't decided whether to retry Juneau businessman Kenneth Klepinger for fraud after a jury brought back a split verdict this week.

The verdict was announced Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Juneau.

Klepinger, 48, former owner of the Beltone Hearing Aid Center at the Nugget Mall, was indicted last year on charges stemming from allegations he defrauded his patients, as well as the state Medicaid program, of more than $140,000 through falsified Medicaid claims.

The government filed 56 charges against Klepinger, but the jury found him guilty only of one count of mail fraud. The jury found him innocent of 30 counts of health-care fraud and one count of money laundering. Jurors were undecided on 24 other counts.

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Daniel Cooper said prosecutors will make a decision within the next two weeks whether to retry Klepinger. He is scheduled to be sentenced for the mail fraud conviction Nov. 26. But Klepinger's attorney, Charles Murdter, said he may appeal the conviction.

Klepinger faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

"We were disappointed he was found guilty on any counts," Murdter said. "But given the government went after him on 56 counts we're pleased with the outcome."

Klepinger could not be reached for comment.

The federal indictment alleged Klepinger filed for payments with Medicaid for a product or service that had not been purchased by a patient. It also alleged he sent false billings to patients, which would constitute mail fraud. The indictment also included a money-laundering charge stemming from claims Klepinger cashed illegally obtained checks from his patients and from Medicaid.

Murdter said Klepinger maintains his innocence but doesn't dispute the allegation there were billing errors. Klepinger cites poorly written Medicaid instructions and oversight as reasons for discrepancies, Murdter said.

Klepinger is still working with his wife, Denise, at what is now the Hearing Center at the Nugget Mall, Murdter said. Though Klepinger lost his dealer's license, he works as an employee for his wife at the store, Murdter said. Klepinger lost his license to dispense and fit people with hearing aids last year following an investigation into his billing practices.

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Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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