Dr. Marc Bradley holds Simba, a 7 1 /2-month-old lion cub, in his cage on Bradley’s property in the Snowflake community of Scott County, while Virginia Game Warden John Puckett watches from outside in this 2006 file photo. Bradley has 60 days to find homes for his menagerie before he begins serving a sentence for fraud and other federal charges. Times-News file photo.
SNOWFLAKE — Federal agriculture officials will likely play a key role in moving exotic zoo animals from a convicted felon’s property in the Snowflake community of Scott County.
A judge in U.S. District Court in Abingdon has given Marc Allen Bradley, 34, 60 days to find new homes for his variety of high-priced pets after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for bilking TennCare and Medicaid of thousands of dollars.
Court public affairs specialist Brian McGinn said Tuesday the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will be informing him of Bradley’s reporting date in two months, essentially giving Bradley 60 days to make the necessary arrangements for the animals.
The former Scott County chiropractor pleaded guilty in federal court in October 2007 to one count each of conspiracy to defraud Medicare and TennCare, mail fraud, wire fraud, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, and obstruction of justice.
Once the zebras, camels and other creatures vacate, it will mark the second time in two years that a federal wildlife animal capture operation has taken place on Bradley’s estate.
In March 2006, workers with a big cat rescue operation in Kingston, Tenn., backed their truck up to a large cage where Bradley kept Simba, a six-month-old lion cub that the chiropractor had purchased, and took him away after Bradley was ordered to give up custody of the animal by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture also helped in the case and will likely enter into agreement to transport the remaining animals off of the Scott County farm, according to VDGIF media relations official Julia Dixon.
“The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has no role with disposition of the animals. If asked, we will provide names of facilities (in Virginia) permitted to possess exotic animals,” Dixon said Tuesday. “Our law enforcement officers will have no role in relocating the animals unless we are requested to assist in some form by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“Since it is our understanding that Mr. Bradley does not have any wildlife native to the commonwealth in captivity, we foresee this as being a federal operation in its entirety.”
Bradley entered an Alford plea in Scott County General District Court in July 2006 on one misdemeanor count of importation and possession of an undesirable and predatory animal, resulting in a fine.
Following his court date, Bradley and his attorney Sid Rhoton said proper federal permits had been secured so that Bradley could continue to keep the exotic animals on his property for display and educational purposes.
His Snowflake Farms operation had brought some of the animals into Scott County schools for programs and had provided his camel to an area church to use in a Nativity scene at Christmas one year.
A federal investigation was launched into his chiropractic offices at the Virginia Center for Integrated Medicine in Weber City in 2005 after evidence was revealed to law enforcement agencies including the Virginia State Police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that Bradley was working with a Tennessee physician that allowed him to use that doctor’s paperwork in order to issue patients Schedule II narcotics prescriptions, according to court information.
Bradley was giving the physician a portion of the profits from the prescriptions and was billing Medicare and TennCare officials as if the Tennessee doctor had treated the patients.
Bradley pocketed $79,261 from the bills, according to court data — all of which must be repaid to Medicare and TennCare.
Katherine Elaine Turner-Yeary, 33, also of Snowflake, was sentenced to three years probation Monday for her role in the health care fraud scheme at the Weber City medical office.
She pleaded guilty in October to one count of obstruction of justice after investigators told the court that Turner-Yeary’s authorization number for prescriptions was being used while she was under the supervision of a physician residing and working full time for a medical office in Tennessee.
Turner-Yeary had little direct contact with the Tennessee doctor, whose name was not released, and several of the prescriptions were issued on days that Turner-Yeary was not in the office.
Two other workers who were convicted of conspiring with Bradley, Connie Rose-Brickey and Weldon Davis, were sentenced to three years probation on Monday.