Jury finds man lied about income to get health care

Posted May 02, 2011, at 7:12 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal jury has found a South Thomaston man guilty of four counts of lying about his cash income in 2008 and 2009 to receive subsidized coverage through the Dirigo Health Agency.

Rodney Russell, 47, was indicted in September on six counts of making a false statement in connection with a health care benefit program between September 2006 and September 2009 while living in Bangor.

The jury acquitted Russell on two of the counts, but it found that he did not declare as much as $30,000 in cash income to Dirigo.

Russell worked “under the table” for Cold Stream Construction between 2007 and 2009, according to the trial brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who prosecuted the case. The firm is owned by an old friend of Russell’s, Malcolm French of Enfield, according to court documents.

Russell was convicted Thursday after a four-day trial, according to court documents. The jury deliberated for more than five hours before announcing its verdict.

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

A sentencing date has not been set.

Defense attorney Joseph Bethony of Bangor said Monday that his client had not decided whether he would appeal the verdict to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

“He is disappointed with the verdict on the whole,” Bethony said of his client’s reaction to the split verdict. “Jurors were very careful, very thoughtful in their deliberations.”

Casey declined to comment on the verdict. It is the practice of the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to comment on cases until after sentencing.

Russell applied for coverage through Dirigo because he had lost his job and was on unemployment, according to court documents. He reapplied for benefits in 2007, 2008 and 2009 but reported that he received no income during those years.

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