Anti-Abortion Extremist Jeff White Sentenced to Prison and $27 Million in Restitution

(Philip Cohen / Flickr)

Anti-abortion extremist Jeff White, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to defrauding health insurance companies through state Affordable Care Act exchanges and a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme involving drug rehabilitation centers, was finally sentenced in February to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. Additionally, he and his son Nicholas, who also pleaded guilty, must pay restitution totaling more than $27 million.

White is a central figure in the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement. Over the past three decades, he’s been arrested more than 60 times for blockading clinics and threatening, terrorizing and harassing abortion providers and those seeking the procedure. 

Read more about White in the piece below, which pulls back the curtain on the flow of cash through front companies and various family members—a plot which potentially netted the family upwards of $4 million and includes money laundering, opulent vacation homes and extreme violence.

(This piece originally ran in the Winter 2019 issue of Ms.):

Operation Rescue Extremist Guilty of Fraud 

Jeff White defrauds ACA marketplaces of $27 million

On Oct. 12, 2018, anti-abortion militant Jeff White pleaded guilty in a Connecticut federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud against Affordable Care Act (ACA) programs. He and his son Nicholas were charged with master-minding a scheme that defrauded U.S. health insurance companies of $27 million. The crime potentially netted the Whites as much as $1.5 million to $4 million.

Questions remain as to what became of the Whites’ ill-gotten gains, including whether monies were laundered through multiple entities owned by the White family to hide assets and fund anti-abortion extremist organizations.

“The funding of anti-abortion extremism has always been shrouded in mystery,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. and executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), which tracks extremists’ activities and works to reduce violence against abortion providers.

White, a former auto-parts retailer, has devoted himself full-time to anti-abortion activities for three decades. He traveled the country and was arrested more than 60 times for blockading clinics and threatening, terrorizing and harassing abortion providers and those seeking the procedure.

“While doing all of this, White managed to support his 11 children and stay-at-home spouse, as well as launch and run a 501(c)3 ‘charity’ that, in addition to serving as a front for his anti-abortion activities, appears to own a beach house in Mexico, which White visits regularly,” Spillar said.

White is a central figure in the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement. Self-proclaimed Army of God “chaplain” Michael Bray, himself convicted for conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic, has said of White, “[He] is one of my favorite innovators—one of the most capable leaders in our ‘movement.’”

White started out as Operation Rescue’s “tactical director” under Randall Terry in the late 1980s and founded Operation Rescue West in 1988. After being slapped with an $880,000 fine for blockading clinics in Southern California, he turned leadership over to his acolyte Troy Newman. Newman eventually renamed the organization Operation Rescue (OR) and relocated the group’s base to Wichita, Kan., in 2002 to target abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, declaring, “Wichita isn’t big enough for George Tiller and me. One of us has to go and it’s not going to be me.” (Seven years after Newman moved to town, a man active with OR shot and killed the physician.)

During the past two decades, while they’ve run their virulent anti-abortion campaigns, both White and Newman have created and dissolved dozens of entities across at least three states, which they often cede to their children or spouses. It’s likely the men have used at least some of these entities to shuttle assets to support anti-abortion activities.

An example is OR’s headquarters: a former abortion clinic in Wichita. In 2006, White’s then 24-year-old daughter, Alison, purchased the building for $112,000. Within months, she quit-claimed (transferred) the property to Cradles of Love (now called Turn the Hearts), a nonprofit that White founded and currently uses as a front to operate his and Newman’s Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust group.

In 2015, Cradles of Love quit-claimed the property to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, an organization founded by Gary Cass, a right-wing San Diego pastor who describes himself as a partner and advisor to Newman.

That same year, the Wichita property also became the registered address of Sunshine Investors, a company founded by Newman’s son Daniel Newman Mariotti. Current ownership of the OR headquarters building is listed under Eclipse Real Estate LLC, which is owned by Newman and his wife, Mellissa. It’s now also the registered address of Wichita Investment Properties, which Newman manages with Newman Mariotti.

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For at least 10 years, the White and Newman families have bought and sold dozens of Wichita properties through a maze of obliquely named entities. Members of the White family own or have owned Jeff Ventures 11, Jeff Ventures II, Jeff Ventures Ii, Ventures Jeff II and Jeff Ventures JR, along with Greater Wichit Inv. (in California) and Greater Whichita Investmentz (in Nevada)—the last two of which could easily be confused with the Newman-and-son-owned Wichita Investment Properties (in Kansas).

The U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut said that the insurance fraud scheme, to which the Whites pleaded guilty, began in 2014. The men set up a company called True Hope/844TrueHope, then identified individuals suffering from drug addiction who lacked health insurance and were open to seeking inpatient treatment. The Whites created false leases and phone numbers for their recruits, as well as fake “qualifying life events” to allow those they enlisted to enroll in insurance on government health exchanges during non-open enrollment periods in states with the most generous addiction coverage.

The Whites sent more than 300 people to rehabilitation facilities that offered them kickbacks for every patient admitted, typically in the thousands of dollars. Additionally, the Whites appear to own some of the treatment facilities listed in the criminal complaint, and, according to the complaint, “some providers paid [the Whites] a flat fee plus a percentage of the amount the ACA plan paid the provider.” The payments were made to Jeff Ventures II and Mile High Resorts. Daughter Alison (who bought the Operation Rescue headquarters in 2006) is the agent for Jeff Ventures II and the president of Mile High Resorts, but she was not charged with a crime.

One of the Whites’ recruits was a man named JS (as he prefers to be identified). JS says he met a relative of the Whites in southern Indiana at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. That man introduced him to Jeff White, who offered him True Hope’s services.

JS wound up spending more than 500 days in five different California facilities, including one in Malibu where, according to JS, patients “got massages, and if you wanted pizza and ice cream for breakfast, you could have it.” JS said that in addition to his treatment, the Whites covered the cost of his airfare and cigarettes.

In return, the Whites presumably pocketed between $15,000 and $37,000 in kickbacks on JS alone. (In some states, including California where the Whites placed JS, it is illegal to pay a referral fee for patients admitted into drug and alcohol treatment facilities.)

In a Facebook post about his and his son’s guilty pleas, White wrote, “The only thing I want to clarify is that I did not line my own pockets.”

His statement strains credulity. Tellingly, the conspiracy appears to coincide with Jeff Ventures II purchasing at least three apartment buildings in Wichita worth more than $300,000, in addition to other properties. It coincides with Blue Sky Investors purchasing at least 10 Wichita properties. Blue Sky is owned by Newman’s family—yet it has a business website administered by Alison White Devaty, who also ran the companies receiving money from her father and brother’s scheme.

It also coincides with the production and release of the fraudulent Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos, which falsely alleged that abortion providers engaged in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. Newman claims to have provided “material support” in the creation and distribution of the videos.

Newman, along with CMP’s David Daleiden, is being sued by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation for alleged fraud, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and other claims. Arguably, the CMP smear videos have placed the lives of countless physicians, clinic staff and patients at risk, including inspiring the mass deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., in November 2015, which left three dead and nine others wounded.

Whether White also helped finance CMP is unknown. However, in August 2015 White referred to the videos in a declaration of “war on Planned Parenthood” and announced the formation of a militia-like group called “the Irregulars.”

Jeff and Nicholas White’s sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 4. Both men face up to 10 years in prison, though they will likely serve only a fraction of that time. The judge may also impose fines up to twice the gross gain from their crimes. But unless the prosecutors chase down the money that may have been moved through White’s multiple various entities, the government is unlikely to recover much of it.

This, in particular, concerns the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Spillar: “If the orchestrated anti-abortion campaign of violence is ever to be stopped, its funding sources have to be cut off. That’s essential.”

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Amanda Robb is a writer based in New York. She has been a contributing writer for O magazine and her work has also appeared in such publications as The New York Times, New York magazine, Newsweek, More and Marie Claire. Her article for Ms., “Not a Lone Wolf” (Spring 2010), won top honors from the Western Publishing Association, Planned Parenthood and the National Women's Law Center.