February 23, 2009
Neal Wagner -
A Columbus man who once ran a local program aimed at keeping at-risk teens out of jail is scheduled to stand trial this week in Lowndes County Circuit Court.
Aaron Pulsifer, 31, of 94 Mckay Drive in Columbus, was arrested Aug. 18, 2008, by the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Office on one count of felony identity theft and 13 counts of felony Medicaid fraud.
The charges came after an LCSO investigation revealed Pulsifer may have used the Columbus-based Youth Challenge Program to steal more than $1.1 million over the course of three years.
Through the Youth Challenge program, Pulsifer sought to aid hundreds of at-risk youth between the ages of 13 and 25 by working one-on-one with the youth to keep them from leading a life of crime.
According to court documents, Pulsifer stole the identity of a woman named Teresa Hubbard and made several false reports to the state Medicaid department, claiming Hubbard had provided diagnostic and counseling services on behalf of Youth Challenge to more than 180 of the program''s participants between March 8, 2006, and Dec. 20, 2007.
After Pulsifer made the fraudulent claims, Medicaid reimbursed him on behalf of the work Hubbard did not do. Between March 2006 and December 2007, Pulsifer received more than $1.1 million in Medicaid reimbursements -- money which partially came from state taxpayers.
If he is found guilty of the 14 felonies, Pulsifer could be sentenced to up to 80 years in prison and be forced to pay a fine of $660,000.
Pulsifer was released on a $220,000 bond Sept. 24, 2008, according to LCSO Chief Deputy Greg Wright.
The Youth Challenge office, on Alabama Street, has been closed since Pulsifer''s arrest.
Prior to his 2008 arrest, Pulsifer was jailed from 1996 to 2001 on felony false pretense charges.
As of this morning, jury selection for the trial continued.
An Alabama man charged with the May 14, 2008, shooting death of 31-year-old Adrian Boyette at the Slab House bar in Caledonia also is scheduled to appear in court this week.
James Newell, 49, of 706 Sailor Cemetery Road in Vernon, Ala., was arrested last year by the LCSO and charged with one count of murder after Lowndes County sheriff''s deputies discovered Boyette, a Sulligent, Ala., resident, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest after authorities received a 911 call reporting shots fired in the area.
After arriving at the scene of the shooting, emergency personnel rushed Boyette to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, where he died shortly after arriving.
Lamar County, Ala., law enforcement officials later located Newell near Vernon, Ala.