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Ex-CEO gets prison term for defrauding Phoenix non-profit

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 08:53:55-05

PHOENIX (AP) - A former CEO has been sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for defrauding a Phoenix non-profit corporation and ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in restitution to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office says 67-year-old James Michael Russo was convicted on felony counts of forgery and attempted fraudulent schemes and artifices.

Prosecutors say Russo was the CEO of Visions of Hope Inc. from 2010 to 2012.

The community-based service organization is Medicaid-funded and provides mental and behavioral health services to impoverished Maricopa County residents.

Board members began a review of their corporation's finances after a state background check uncovered a felony conviction that Russo hadn't disclosed.

Russo was then asked to resign and a subsequent financial review ordered by the board discovered the fraud.