(WFRV) – A man from Illinois and an executive at Mercyhealth were sentenced to prison for their role in a kickback scheme that took over $2 million.

According to officials, 48-year-old Ryan Weckerly was sentenced to prison for wire fraud and aiding in the preparation of a false tax return. He was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by six months of home confinement and two and a half years of supervised release.

An investigation showed that between 2015 and 2020 Weckerly and Barbara Bortner conducted a kickback scheme. Bortner was the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Mercyhealth in Janesville. Weckerly is from Sycamore.

Weckerly would reportedly submit inflated invoices to Bortner for his marketing work for Mercyhealth. When his invoices would get approved by Bortner, he would provide money back to her in crash or checks.

In exchange for the money, Bortner reportedly agreed to use Weckerly’s business as the primary marketing agency for Mercyhealth. Weckerly’s business was Morningstar Media Group.

In an attempt to hide the nature of the kickback payments, Bortner created a fake company named WeInspire LLC. Over the duration of the kickback scheme, Weckerly reportedly wrote over 103 checks to WeInspire LLC. The checks reportedly added up to $2,051,975

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did an audit of Bortner’s tax returns in 2019 and she said that WeInspire was a legitimate company. Following the interview with the IRS, Bortner reportedly kept getting kickback payments from Weckerly.

Bank records showed that Weckerly gave Bortner over $1,000,000 in cash kickback payments. Weckerly and Bortner were ordered to pay $2,428,275 in restitution to Mercyhealth.

Bortner was sentenced to three and a half years in prison back in May 2022. Local 5 will update this story if more details are released.