Wilburton nursing homeowners under investigation

Owners of a financially troubled Wilburton nursing home are under investigation by the Oklahoma attorney general's office for the possible mishandling of residents' trust accounts.
BY RANDY ELLIS rellis@opubco.com Modified: January 12, 2011 at 6:55 am •  Published: January 12, 2011
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Owners of a financially troubled Wilburton nursing home are under investigation by the Oklahoma attorney general's office for the possible mishandling of residents' trust accounts.

The investigation was requested by the state Health Department after irregularities were detected during a Nov. 29 monitoring survey of Community Care Center of Wilburton, said Jim Buck, Health Department assistant chief of long term care.

Based on interviews and document reviews, “it was determined the facility failed to protect resident funds and to ensure residents' funds were available” for use by the 22 residents who kept money in trust accounts overseen by the nursing home, inspectors said.

Nursing home Administrator Mitchell Townsend told state inspectors he never saw the residents' checks or bank statements and that those accounts were managed by the home's owners.

The Wilburton nursing home is operated by Bass Healthcare Enterprises, LLC, which is owned by Jeffery L. Butcher and Chris Whitney, both of Fort Smith, Ark., and pharmacist Jeff Pippenger of Eufaula.

Records reveal the IRS filed a $277,603 federal tax lien against Bass Healthcare on Oct. 12 for allegedly failing to remit taxes on a form for reporting income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes that have been withheld from employees' paychecks, along with the employer's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Butcher and Whitney also are listed as owners of Newkirk Holdings, LLC, which operates Newkirk Nursing Center. That limited liability company had a $195,229 federal tax lien filed against it Oct. 12 for failure to pay those same type taxes, plus unemployment taxes.

Pippenger confirmed he is an investor in the Wilburton nursing home but said his two partners manage the finances.

“I don't get to see the money at all,” he said, adding that he is as anxious as anyone to find out what has been happening.

“It does have me pretty concerned,” Pippenger said. “The last thing I wanted — ever — was to have my integrity associated with it.

“That's not my way of doing things and I don't want my integrity drug through the mud,” he said. “What they consider normal business is not necessarily normal business for me ... I told them to buy me out a couple years ago and they are getting the finances to buy me out.”

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