Man Pleads Guilty to $3M Health Fund Theft

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – The owner of a health care reimbursement company has pleaded guilty to stealing $3 million from accounts, the Justice Department said.
     Darren Bottinelli ran a company called Axis Benefit Administrators that contracted with employers for health insurance reimbursements.
     The government said Bottinelli took around $3 million from trust account funds between 2009 and 2014, after which he closed Axis’ office without telling clients.
     At the end of last year the U.S. Labor Department sued Bottinelli and Axis for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The parties reached a settlement in which Bottinelli and Axis were banned from serving as fiduciaries or service providers under the law.
     On March 17, Bottinelli pleaded guilty to theft in connection to health care for taking the money. The government said around 4,000 people could not access their account funds.
     Bottinelli is scheduled for sentencing in September, and he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
     On a Better Business Bureau website for Axis Health Partners, there are numerous complaints from clients who claim to have been ripped off.
     “I still have over $3,000 on my Axis account and had an appointment today and received no notification that Axis was closing,” one commenter wrote on April 8, 2014.
     “I am very confused on what is happening. I am getting no responses to my voicemails or emails and my card is being denied and the website says going out of business, however I was never notified and I am wanting my money that I put into this account,” another commenter wrote later that month.

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