Investigations Politics

A veteran investigator for Attorney General Andy Beshear has been fired for misconduct that included lying to grand juries.

David Reed Wilbers lied in at least two criminal cases in recent years, records show. He was the only witness to testify. Both cases eventually were dismissed.

Wilbers also made “false or misleading” statements to the attorney general’s office during its recent inquiry into his misconduct, according to records obtained by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

His actions “reflect a lack of good behavior and unsatisfactory performance of duties,” Holly McCoy-Johnson of the attorney general’s office wrote in Wilbers’ January 6 termination letter. “Your demonstrated failures to be truthful show that you cannot perform the minimum requirements of your job duties.”

Though allegations of untruthfulness have dogged Wilbers for years, the documents show no prior investigation or discipline of him by the attorney general’s office. In fact, when he was promoted in 2011, Wilbers was described as “an outstanding employee” and as “an asset to this office.”

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office declined to discuss Wilbers’ case, including why he had received no scrutiny from the administration of Beshear’s predecessor, Jack Conway. “We don’t comment on personnel actions,” the spokesman said.

Wilbers, whose firing takes effect on Tuesday, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Stephen Wolnitzek of Covington, said he and Wilbers would not discuss the termination but that they intend to appeal it to the state Personnel Board.

The former Georgetown, Kentucky police officer had been an investigator with the Office of Medicaid Fraud & Abuse Control since January 2008. His duties included investigating allegations of health-care fraud and patient abuse and neglect. He also had full police powers.

In late September, the Wilbers investigation became another flashpoint in the ongoing tensions between Gov. Matt Bevin and Beshear. In the wake of news reports about Wilbers untruthfulness, Bevin sent Beshear a text message calling Beshear’s office “an increasing embarrassment to the Commonwealth.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear

Attorney General Andy Beshear

Bevin was referring to Wilbers’ misconduct in a Boyle County Medicaid fraud case, which was first reported by The Advocate-Messenger newspaper in Danville.

Wilbers’ grand-jury testimony in that case resulted in a three-count indictment in February charging Edward Donzell Parker with Medicaid fraud.

Last August, Parker’s attorneys alleged that Wilbers “made false statements and blatantly misled the grand jury on several occasions.” The attorneys cited four false or misleading statements by Wilbers to grand jurors.

The case was dismissed on September 26 with the assent of the attorney general’s office. Wilbers was placed on paid leave the following week, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Jesse Robbins, a lawyer in the attorney general’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, also was disciplined in connection with the Parker case.

Robbins ignored a supervisor’s directive to inform Parker’s attorneys of a judge’s 2012 ruling that Wilbers made false statements to obtain an indictment, according to a letter of reprimand issued late last month to Robbins.

Robbins was guilty of “poor work performance” and “failed to exhibit the standards expected” of the attorney general’s office, the inquiry concluded. He has been a lawyer in the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control since September 2007.

Robbins could not be reached for comment.

Though Wilbers’ termination centered on two cases of untruthfulness, he also was accused of lying in at least one other case, KyCIR reported in October.

A defense attorney claimed Wilbers lied in 2009 to a Logan County grand jury to obtain the indictment of a nursing home aide charged with abusing or neglecting a patient.

That case was dismissed after Circuit Judge Tyler Gill found that Wilbers had given the patient’s daughter the name and telephone number of an attorney who later sued the aide and others. In so doing, Wilbers may have had a financial motive to obtain a criminal conviction, Gill ruled.

The attorney general’s investigation cited the case as another example of Wilbers’ “documented lack of veracity and accuracy.”

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

This story was reported by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

R.G. Dunlop is an investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms.