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Corruption investigated in Kansas National Guard

Jul. 21, 2014 - 03:23PM   |  
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TOPEKA, KAN. — Federal authorities are investigating possible corruption involving outside medical companies’ contracts with the Kansas Army National Guard, according to the state’s adjutant general’s office.

Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the adjutant general’s office, confirmed the investigation to The Lawrence Journal-World.

“We can’t speak to specifics, except to say we were made aware of concerns of inappropriate conduct related to our medical contracts and we have referred the matter to federal authorities for further investigation,” Watson said in an email Friday.

Both state and federal governments prohibit employees from accepting gifts from outside entities.

The newspaper reports the statement was in response to questions it asked about allegations that a captain in the Guard’s Medical Detachment received gifts from Dentrust, a Pennsylvania company that performs dental screenings and treatment for Guard soldiers. Dentrust, one of three companies that contract with the Guard for those services, received more than $585,000 under those contracts in federal fiscal years 2012-2013.

The captain, a Contracting Officer Representative, helps to oversee the contracts and ensures compliance with their terms. Another person has alleged that Dentrust and Guard officials attempted to quash a separate sexual harassment complaint involving a Dentrust employee who said she was assaulted by an Army National Guard soldier earlier this year, the newspaper reported.

Watson said the Adjutant General’s office, which oversees both the Kansas Army and Air National Guards, could not comment on specific allegations of sexual assault or harassment.

Dentrust officials did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

Medical providers contract with National Guard units across the country to provide health screenings and treatment for soldiers, supplementing the Guard’s own medical staff.

Before 2012, the Kansas Army National Guard contracted only with Salina-based Compass Medical Provider. But in 2012, the Guard also signed contracts with Dentrust and ACC Health, of Albuquerque, N.M. Those contracts expired at the end of fiscal 2013 but were continued until late last week, when the Guard awarded five-year contracts to four companies. The names weren’t disclosed because all the companies had not been notified.

In the federal fiscal year 2013, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the Kansas Army National Guard spent $972,000 on contracted medical services, more than triple what it had spent in fiscal year 2011, with Dentrust receiving more than half of that amount, the Journal-World reported.

That allowed the state to improve to 13th in the nation in terms of readiness among the 54 state and territorial National Guard systems, Watson said.

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