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Former executive to plead guilty to $3 million kickback scheme

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By Lucas Robinson

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    JANESVILLE, Wisconsin (madison.com/Wisconsin State Journal) — A former vice president of marketing for Mercyhealth in Janesville will plead guilty to tax evasion charges in federal court related to a $3 million kickback scheme with an Illinois-based marketing firm, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Barbara Bortner, 57, of Milton, was charged Wednesday with steering Mercyhealth’s marketing work to Morningstar Media Group in exchange for payoffs from its owner, said Timothy M. O’Shea, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.

In an arrangement that lasted from 2015 to mid-2020, Bortner reportedly accepted inflated invoices from the marketing firm’s former owner, Ryan Weckerly, 46, of Sycamore, Illinois.

Weckerly then paid Bortner back the inflated funds to keep Morningstar as Mercyhealth’s main marketing client, O’Shea said. Bortner’s charges stem from not reporting the payoff income on her 2018 tax return. For his involvement, Weckerly plans to plead guilty to aiding and abetting the preparation of false income tax returns, O’Shea said.

The five-year scheme reportedly involved over $3 million. Plea hearings for Bortner and Weckerly have not yet been scheduled.

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