Miss. man who worked with troubled youth accused in scam

Published 4:27 pm Friday, August 22, 2008

The founder of an organization dedicated to helping troubled teens stay out of jail is himself behind bars, facing felony charges in an alleged Medicaid scam.

Aaron Ray Pulsifer, 31, of Columbus, former executive director of Youth Challenge Inc., was held Thursday at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center in lieu of a $200,000 bond. He has entered an innocent plea to the charges and a Nov. 17 trial is scheduled.

Pulsifer’s program is not connected to a Youth Challenge program run by the Mississippi National Guard, a Guard spokesman said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Authorities allege in court documents that Pulsifer used the organization in a nearly three-year scheme in which he illegally received more than $1.1 million in Medicaid reimbursement.

Lowndes County court documents allege Pulsifer stole the identity of a woman, identified as Teresa Hubbard, then made several false reports to the state Medicaid Department without her knowledge — claiming she had provided diagnostic and counseling services on behalf of Youth Challenge to dozens of program participants.

According to the documents, the services were never done.

Attorney Latisha Clinkscales, identified in court records as Pulsifer’s attorney, could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Documents show Pulsifer’s arrest this week marked the second time the 31-year-old has been in legal trouble. Between 1996 and 2001, he was jailed on felony false pretense charges.

Following his 2001 release from the state Department of Corrections, Pulsifer founded the Youth Challenge Program, claiming he wanted to give something back to the community.

The program sought to aid hundreds of at-risk youth between 13 and 25 years old by working one-on-one with the youth to keep them from leading a life of crime.

As art of the program, he took the youths to state correctional facilities in an attempt to show them the reality of a life behind bars.