CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County District Judge David Park on Thursday sentenced the former chief financial officer of a Casper nursing home to between four and six years in prison and ordered him to pay $41,000 in restitution for embezzlement.
Perry Vandeventer pleaded guilty in December to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses from Shepherd of the Valley, 60 Magnolia Road, in exchange for the prosecution dropping another charge.
While justice may have been served Thursday, Shepherd of the Valley’s board chairman said the effects on the state’s largest nursing home — founded by local congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — are permanent.
“The damage he caused is irreparable,” Rick Bonander said.
Bonander, Shepherd of the Valley CEO Jill Hult, and Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer blamed Vandeventer for accelerating the financial decline at the nursing home in late 2010 that led to its acquisition by a Minnesota company.
“His embezzling money wasn’t as bad as not giving us good financial advice,” Bonander said, adding he spoke at the sentencing on behalf of the board of directors of Shepherd of the Valley.
Vandeventer’s attorney, Tara Nethercott of Cheyenne, did not return a call seeking comment.
From his hiring in early 2008 to January 2011, Vandeventer defrauded the nursing home by submitting bogus receipts for contractors who never did any work, obtaining cash advances for travel including trips he didn’t take, and obtaining money for books, education expenses and dues for purposes unrelated to the nursing home’s business, according to court records.
He also used nursing home credit cards to pay for a computer, books, meals in Denver restaurants, vehicle repair, fuel, and a personal speeding ticket in Casper Municipal Court, according to court records.
In January 2011, Vandeventer’s family reported him missing about the same time that Hult submitted reports to the police about numerous financial discrepancies found during an audit.
Police determined Vandeventer allegedly obtained fraudulent expense reimbursements totaling $23,719.66, and personal credit card charges totaling $28,080.05.
Vandeventer’s actions coincided with six- and seven-figure deficits revealed in the nonprofit facility’s IRS Forms 990 from 2006 to 2009, as well as IRS tax liens — a claim on a property to pay a debt — totaling nearly $775,000 filed in August 2010.
Shepherd of the Valley’s financial problems nearly forced it to close or file for bankruptcy.
Because of the threat of relocating 150 patients statewide, Natrona County’s state lawmakers filed a bill to appropriate $2 million from the general fund to the Medicaid contingency reserve and to allow the governor to transfer money to a health care facility in financial crisis.
Legislative action wasn’t needed because the for-profit Minnesota-based Mission Healthcare bought the nursing home’s assets for about $6.5 million plus $2.25 million to $3 million for its estimated debt.
At the sentencing, three people spoke on the 65-year-old Vandeventer’s behalf, Schafer said.
But neither they nor his defense could dissuade Park from handing down the three- to six-year sentence to the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
While Vandeventer had no apparent history of felonies, the Commerce City, Colo., City Council forced him out as city manager in September 2006 after reports of profligate spending for $300 pens and $1,200 for flowers (from his wife’s floral shop), and drunken driving, according to news reports from Denver media.
Hult said Shepherd of the Valley did its due diligence in researching his past, including checking references and talking with past employers. She, too, spoke at Vandeventer’s sentencing to represent the patients, their families, and the nursing home’s employees.
The crisis at Shepherd of the Valley may not have resulted in the stress to patients and families, and the sale to Mission Healthcare, if he had done his job of keeping the administration and board aware of the actual financial condition of the nursing home, Hult said.
“He spend a lot of time covering his tracks instead of caring for our (finances),” she said.