KOB investigates private plane funded by the public

Garcia's plane is similar to this plane
From KOB-TV.com - By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - 4 On Your Side has learned public dollars have been spent on the use of a private plane. In the simmering controversy over New Mexico non-profits and alleged Medicaid fraud, Governor Susana Martinez has singled out Roque Garcia, the CEO of Southwest Counseling in Las Cruces.
     An audit conducted by the State’s Human Services Department redflagged Garcia. It showed Garcia is paid $107,000 annually, but he gets an additional $16,500 each year to put toward use of his plane. “That is a lot of money for being a non-profit organization," Gov. Martinez told 4OYS during an interview.
     Southwest Counseling is one of 15 behavioral health companies in New Mexico accused of defrauding the state out of $35 million in Medicaid reimbursements by double-billing, overbilling, and giving their CEO’s excessive pay and benefits. In Garcia’s case, 90 percent of his company’s funding comes from Medicaid.
     Flight records pulled by 4OYS show the plane in question has flown to the Jersey Shore; Mexico; Las Vegas, Nev.; and all around New Mexico recently. Garcia doesn’t apologize for using his single engine 4-seater.
     Garcia said he believed it would cost less to fly his own plane to business meetings and return the same day. The cost saved time and saved on hotel stays, Garcia said. But the governor said there’s no real way to know if flying was a cost saving measure because Garcia never kept track of his travel, business or pleasure.
     "That's the problem when you give lump sums and you give no accountability back to the board,” Gov. Martinez said. “You don't have an itemized travel expenditure sheet that says I went, I traveled, and I spent this much for this one trip and this trip was related to my work associated with Southwest Counseling Center."  More