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Ex-hospital executive charged in $3 million kickback scheme

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former executive for Mercyhealth in Wisconsin and the owner of an Illinois marketing firm will plead guilty to wire fraud and other charges related to a more than $3 million kickback scheme, federal authorities said on Wednesday.

Barbara Bortner, 57, of Milton, was the vice president of marketing at Mercyhealth in Janesville during the scam that allegedly lasted from 2015 to 2020. Authorities say Bortner accepted inflated invoices from Morningstar Media Group owner Ryan Weckerly, who then paid back Bortner with the proceeds.

Bortner is also charged with tax evasion for failing to report the kickback income on her 2018 tax return. Weckerly, 46, of Sycamore, Illinois, is also charged with aiding and abetting the preparation of false income tax returns.

Prosecutors say Bortner and Weckerly have both agreed to plead guilty. Plea hearings in the case have not been scheduled.

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