Friday, August 27, 2004

Felix fraud case ends
with deferred guilty plea

A former Kaneohe man was granted a deferral of his guilty plea to theft charges for billing his employer for more than $13,000 in services he never rendered to special-needs children under the Felix consent decree.

Under a plea agreement, Daniel Riedel, 32, pleaded guilty yesterday to six counts of second-degree theft. If he stays out of trouble for the next five years, he will have a chance to remove the conviction from his record.

According to the indictment, Riedel submitted false claims to his employer Alaka'i Na Keiki from July 1999 to January 2000.

Riedel apologized to the court yesterday, saying he felt badly about what he did and wanted to make up for it. "This is my opportunity to take care of what happened," he said.

Scott Collins, Riedel's attorney, said his client was the perfect candidate for a deferral given he came forward as soon as he was notified of the charges to take responsibility.

Deputy Attorney General James Kawashima said the state entered into the agreement because Riedel did accept blame for what he did and was willing to return to Hawaii rather than be extradited. "We believed he wanted to accept responsibility," he said.

Although Riedel did not get jail time, it was important that this case was prosecuted because it shows the state will not turn its back on Medicaid or medical assistance fraud, Kawashima said.

Riedel was ordered to pay $12,881 restitution and perform 200 hours of community service. Court supervision will be turned over to the state of California where Riedel now lives.



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