Oct 7, 12:35 PM EDT

Missouri man who used Medicaid funds on strippers sentenced


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The owner of a Festus nursing home who used Medicaid funds for strippers, gambling and other personal expenses while the facilities were falling apart has been sentenced to nearly 3.5 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say 53-year-old Johnnie Mac Sells, of St. Peters, the former CEO of Benchmark Health Care, spent more than $667,000 in Medicaid funds on his personal lifestyle. He pleaded guilty in April to health care fraud.

Benchmark owned long-term care facilities in Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Federal prosecutors say residents at Benchmark homes didn't receive medication and employees sometimes used their own money to buy food. The state rescued 60 residents at a Benchmark Home in Missouri in the summer of 2016 because of unsafe living conditions, such as piled up trash and fly infestations.

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