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DEA serves search warrant in investigation of former Arkansas Medical Board Chairman


DEA serves search warrant in investigation of former Arkansas Medical Board Chairman

May 25, 2023 | 5:55 pm ET
By Hunter Field
DEA serves search warrant in investigation of former Arkansas Medical Board Chairman
(Getty Images)

Federal agents this week executed a search warrant in an ongoing investigation into former Arkansas State Medical Board chairman Dr. Brian Hyatt.

The confirmation of a federal investigation by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas expands the growing legal entanglement surrounding the Northwest Arkansas psychiatrist, who resigned as head of the Medical Board in March a day after an Advocate investigation.

Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly executed the warrant at Hyatt’s clinic in Rogers on Tuesday.

Why the DEA is involved in the investigation is as yet unknown. Hyatt has been under investigation by state authorities for Medicaid fraud, and he was suspended from the Medicaid program in February.

While Medicaid is administered by states, Medicare is a federal program, so Medicare fraud allegations are often pursued by federal authorities.

“This is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office and the DEA,” said Nicole Times, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office. “The DEA executed a search warrant in this investigation on Tuesday.  In general, the execution of a search warrant is an important step in any lengthy, ongoing investigation.  In light of the fact that this investigation is still ongoing, we can’t make any additional comments.”

Hyatt hasn’t been charged with a crime, and he and his attorneys have not responded to requests for comment since February.

The scrutiny of Hyatt began after a whistleblower complaint last year.

A search warrant affidavit prepared by an investigator in the Arkansas attorney general’s office and approved by a judge for Hyatt’s phone records revealed that investigators suspect Hyatt was improperly billing Medicaid for psychiatric patients.

Lawsuits pile up against former Arkansas Medical Board chairman at center of fraud probe

Surveillance video of Northwest Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit showed Hyatt had little if any contact with patients on a daily basis, despite billing claims, according to the affidavit,.

He resigned as chairman of the Medical Board a few days after his suspension from Medicaid, which he has appealed, and he remains on the board as a non-executive member.

Hyatt’s contract at Northwest Medical Center was “abruptly terminated” last May, according to state records. The hospital last month agreed to repay $1.1 million to the state Medicaid program in a settlement.

A dozen former patients have also filed civil lawsuits against Hyatt, the hospital and his staff.