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Nursing home owner says he spent Medicaid funds on strippers

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FESTUS, Mo. (AP) _ The owner of a suburban St. Louis nursing home where 60 residents had to be rescued after food ran out and trash piled up has admitted to stealing about $665,000 from Medicaid and spending some of it on strippers.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 52-year-old Johnnie Mac Sells pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court to two counts of health care fraud. Prosecutors say he also spent some of the stolen money on gambling and country club fees. The accusations were first made public at the hearing.

Problems at Benchmark Healthcare became so bad in September that the state shut down the Festus nursing home and moved the residents. At that point, employees were spending their own money to fee residents.

Sentencing is set for July 25.