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Judge candidate says he’s staying in race

 

Radeker says wife’s plea deal on federal fraud charges won’t stop him

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

Retired Lincoln County assistant district attorney and District 27B judge candidate Gwynn Radeker told the Times-News on Friday he has no plans to cancel his current campaign and still stands in full support of his wife Linda Smoot Radeker, following her recent federal convictions for money laundering and health care fraud conspiracy.

The 71-year-old Shelby woman and licensed professional counselor with North Carolina Medicaid, pled guilty Thursday to one count of health care fraud conspiracy and two counts of money laundering, admitting to giving others her provider number from 2008 to 2011, during which time she and co-conspirators cheated the federal government out of more than $6 million, according to a U.S. District Attorney’s Office press release from the state’s Western district.

Linda Radeker falsely claimed on the individuals’ medical forms, a majority of whom were child residents of Cleveland and Gaston Counties, that she was their attending clinician, the release said.

The co-conspirators told parents they operated after school programs in the area and needed their children’s Medicaid information to enroll them, according to the release. In turn, the co-conspirators used the information to file fake claims.

Over the three-year period, Linda Radeker kept nearly 50 percent of the false reimbursements that came in and purchased more than one vehicle and $500,000 in jewelry, the release said.

While Gwynn Radeker said his wife did illegally give out her health care number, she wasn’t aware of the degree to which others were taking advantage of it.

“She did allow a situation that let others run around and do the crimes,” he said.

Despite her criminal involvement, Gwynn told the Times-News on Friday that Linda is “not the queen of evil.”

He said she pleaded guilty in order to avoid a potential life sentence.

“The government framed them, and she had no choice but to plead,” said the former state prosecutor.

Gwynn denied that he knew anything about the illegal activity while it was taking place and said that neither he nor his campaign profited from the funds.

“I wasn’t involved in this; I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it,” he said.

While money continued to flow into the Radeker household from 2008 until 2011, Gwynn claimed he didn’t know it was illegal.

“I didn’t even know all of this was going on,” he said. “She didn’t consult my legal advice.”

Once news about her criminal involvement did break in the spring, Linda offered to divorce Gwynn in order to keep from smudging his campaign, but he refused to “desert” her.

“The most important thing in my life right now is my relationship with my wife,” he said. “My legal career is way down on the totem pole.”

While it’s been an “emotional time” for he and Linda, the district judge candidate plans to keep his campaign active with confidence that his biggest supporters will remain behind him.

“People who know me will not be affected by this,” he said. “If people choose not to vote for me because of Linda, that’s their choice … I’m not backing off or bowing my head.”

Additional arrests may occur in the case, according to Lia Bantavani, public information officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Gwynn Radeker said he does not believe he’ll be charged in the incident, and at this point, authorities have failed to even suggest the idea.

While a sentencing date has not yet been set, Linda faces up to a decade in federal prison for each of her three felony convictions including a fine of up to $500,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. As part of her plea, Linda agreed to re-pay all losses to Medicaid, an amount that will be determined at her sentence hearing.

“In time, it will all work itself out,” Gwynn Radeker said. “She’s (Linda) tougher than I ever thought about being.”

 

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