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A FEDERAL JUDGE in Tampa has postponed until at least this fall the trial of Thaddeus Bereday, the ousted general counsel of WellCare Health Plans, Inc., along with four other ex-company execs. At a status hearing last week, U.S. District Court Judge James Moody, Jr., found the case too complicated to meet the original May 2 trial date. “A complex and prolonged trial is anticipated,” Moody noted. No new trial date was set. But a new status hearing was scheduled for September 1 “after counsel has had time to review and evaluate the discovery materials,” Moody said. He also extended the deadline for filing pre-trial motions until the September hearing date. Bereday and the other four defendants were indicted in early March for allegedly trying to bilk Medicaid of millions of dollars. Bereday faces one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of making false statements, and four counts of health care fraud. The indictment accuses Bereday specifically of taking part in meetings and emails that planned and executed a conspiracy to funnel Medicaid profits through HMOs and hide them in a third company. WellCare, headquartered in Tampa, provides managed care services for government-sponsored health care programs. In 2009, the company agreed to pay $40 million in restitution and to forfeit another $40 million to the United States on charges related to the fraud. A $200 million settlement between WellCare and plaintiffs in a securities class action suit stemming from the fraud has received preliminary approval.

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