On October 23, the Bentonville Police Department began an investigation after they said they received a complaint from administrators of the Northwest Health System. The complaint claimed Dr. Ruben Tejada was handling his financial responsibilities inappropriately. Police said they interviewed witnesses and reviewed several documents as part of an investigation.
Officers arrested 54 year old Dr. Tejada, Rogers, on October 31. Dr. Tejada was charged with Theft of Property-Embezzlement, a Class B Felony, and booked him into the Benton County Jail where he will receive a probable cause bond hearing. The investigation is continuing.
Tejada is listed on the Northwest Medical Health Systems website as a doctor of internal medicine, but a spokesperson for the hospital says he has not worked with them since August.
"We are aware that Dr. Tejada has been arrested," officials said in a statement. "...we have cooperated with the authorities in their investigation of this matter."
Police say an employee claimed Tejada instructed her to keep two books to hide that he was keeping the cash from self-pay patients. She explained in a probable cause report that when a patient paid with cash, she put that money in an envelope and gave it to Dr. Tejada at the end of each day. The employee also told investigators he had threatened some of them, cursed at them and made references to “knowing someone in the mafia” if they didn’t do as he said.
During questioning, Dr. Tejeda told investigators he had been keeping cash payments from former patients but told them he was unclear on hospital procedure. He also told them he owed money to the IRS and was "bad with money." He denied any claims that he had threatened his staff.
According to the probable cause report, Dr. Tejada is accused of stealing around $27,000.
More details from the probable cause report:
- During an interview with the Vice President of the Compliance Department, Dr. Ruben Tejada admitted he had stolen money that belonged to the hospital.
- Dr. Tejada returned some money to the hospital after he was given the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know the proper billing procedures since he was now a part of the Northwest Health System. But then continued to instruct his staff to keep different record and delete cash payments from the system.
- His employees reported he became very angry over the cash at times, cursing loudly in front of patients, refusing to follow rules, refusing to lock the drug cabinet and threw keys across the room.
- Tejada told officers he kept the cash from old patients because they still owed him money from when he was self-employed.
- He told them he was not a good business person and that he had to file for bankruptcy after he got a divorce a few years ago.
- Tejada said the hospital trained his staff but not him on the billing systems, however Northwest Health said he had been trained. They noted he scored a 100% on his post test.
- When asked if he knew what he did was wrong, Dr. Tejada replied, “I might. I don’t know. I was really upset then, at that moment, you know because I’d never been in a situation like that. I felt like, trapped. I don’t know what I said, really, but it’s possible. I don’t know…”