Ex chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board has been arrested for Medicaid fraud

ROGERS -- The former chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board has been arrested on two felony charges of Medicaid fraud, authorities said.

Police in Rogers arrested Brian Thomas Hyatt, 49, a Rogers psychiatrist, on Monday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. He was being held in the Benton County Jail for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office with no bond set, according to online jail records. A telephone call seeking comment from his attorney, Erin Cassinelli, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

In a statement, Attorney General Tim Griffin said Hyatt's arrest came after a Pulaski County district court judge signed a warrant from his office.

"Prior to Dr. Hyatt's arrest by the Rogers Police Department, prosecutors from my office and defense counsel had already reached an agreement for Dr. Hyatt's surrender and appearance in court. We are honoring that prior agreement and look forward to his appearance in Pulaski County court later this month," Griffin said in a statement.

Hyatt was appointed to the medical board by then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January 2019. He stepped down as board chairman in March and but maintained his seat on the board until May, the newspaper reported.

Hyatt denied any wrongdoing in his May 16 resignation letter.

"I am not resigning because of any wrongdoing on my part, but so that the board may continue its important work without delay or distraction," Hyatt said. "I will continue to defend myself in the proper forum against the false allegations being made against me."

State and federal authorities have launched investigations following allegations of fraud by Hyatt.

U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes, who represents the Western District of Arkansas, confirmed in May that agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration searched Hyatt's office in Rogers. The attorney general's office was contacted in April 2022 by a whistleblower from the behavioral health unit of Northwest Medical Center-Springdale, according to the affidavit used to obtain that search warrant.

Hyatt had been the medical director of the unit since January 2018. His contract with the medical center was "abruptly terminated" in May 2022, according to the affidavit.

Griffin said in March that Northwest Arkansas Hospitals had agreed to pay the state more than $1 million in connection with 246 Medicaid claims based on medical evaluations, diagnoses and supporting documentation certified by Hyatt and nonphysician providers working under his control and supervision. That settlement came after an audit by the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, a state contractor, found documentation provided for the claims "did not justify or support the medical necessity requirement for hospitalizations," Griffin said in a news release announcing the settlement.

The Office of Medicaid Inspector General suspended all payments for Medicaid services to Hyatt after determining there was a "credible allegation of fraud" against him, according to a Feb. 24 letter the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

In addition, Hyatt faces several civil lawsuits. One, filed in March in Washington County Circuit Court, accuses him and others of unlawfully holding patients in Northwest Medical Center-Springdale's behavioral health unit "to fraudulently bill their private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other applicable insurance coverage for alleged care and treatment that was not provided."