A Shelby man whose wife pleaded guilty last week to Medicaid fraud is running for District Court judge.
Gwynn Radeker, 68, said his wifes conviction for health care fraud and money laundering wont deter his candidacy.
Im not changing the way Im running, Radeker said. Im the one running for office, and Im sick that shes in this mess, and were trying to work it out the best we can.
His wife, Linda Smoot Radeker, is a licensed counselor to Medicaid patients. Radeker filed false claims of mental and behavioral health services to Medicaid between 2008 and 2011, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.
With those claims totaling about $6.1 million Radeker bought a $21,500 Ford Ranger, a $44,440 Lincoln SUV, an RV and at least $500,000 in jewelry, federal prosecutors said.
Her husband said she made a mistake in allowing people to bill her through her Medicaid number, but that she didnt know it was happening. He said she considered the fraud abhorrent.
She was ill, taking care of her mother and wasnt really paying attention to what was going on, Gwynn Radeker said.
He said he was working 50 and 60 hour weeks much of the time.
I didnt have time to worry about her stuff. Its not something she consulted with me about, he said.
Radeker said his wife pleaded guilty to avoid a harsher sentence.
Linda Radeker has agreed to pay full restitution to Medicaid for losses resulting from the scheme, prosecutors said. She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. That amount will be determined at a sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled.
Gwynn Radeker, who is running against incumbent Meredith Shuford, has been a lawyer for 38 years. He was an assistant district attorney in Cleveland and Lincoln counties for 15 1/2 years.
He retired in February 2011.
After I retired, I was approached by some fellow attorneys who asked if I would run for this particular position, Radeker said of the county district judge seat. I know one of the reasons they asked me to run is they know Id work very hard at the job, and that I was fairly knowledgeable in the job, and they knew Id be fair.
Radeker is only running for one four-year term, because 10 months into his second term, he would be legally required to give up his seat at the age of 72.
He said he first discovered that his wife was in legal trouble in March of this year, after he had filed for the judgeship.
He said his wife offered to divorce him on the spot for the sake of his political career, but he said no.
Shed been supportive of me all the 13 years wed been married, and I told her, Theres no way Im running off and leaving you. I love her, he said.
Radeker said he didnt think his wifes new purchases were odd.
I know theres people out there who say, You mustve known whats going on, and the answer is no, I didnt know what was going on at all, Radeker said.
We did not come home at night and spend a great deal of time talking about what we did that day. We spent time being married fixing dinner, watching television and cleaning around the house and going to bed and getting up in the morning.
Shuford has held the seat for the past six years.
It would be inappropriate for me to comment on it, Shuford said about Radekers campaign, but Ill let the voters decide.
John Davis, a political analyst, writer and consultant who has followed North Carolina politics for 26 years, said he thinks Radeker has a tough road ahead of him in the campaign.
He called the indictment and conviction of a candidates spouse politically devastating.
The family matters, Davis said.