Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., accused U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's office in San Diego of withholding evidence that several witnesses made false statements in the criminal kickback case against Tenet's Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, and two of the hospital's executives. Tenet filed a motion asking for an evidentiary hearing to determine if actions of the U.S. attorney's office constituted prosecutorial misconduct. The government's case involves more than 100 physician relocation agreements, and only some of the accusations rest on witnesses who allegedly gave false testimony. U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz has scheduled a hearing Friday on Tenet's motion, by which time the U.S. attorney's office is expected to file a response. Lam's office declined to comment.
The accused witnesses include Paul Ver Hoeve, a physician whose charges helped launch the case, and members of the Mani family, some of whom received physician relocation agreements from Alvarado. A letter from the prosecutor's office, filed in Tenet's motion, said Ver Hoeve misled the grand jury about how well he knew Mina Nazaryan, a defendant who was in charge of physician recruitment for Alvarado. Ver Hoeve testified that he thought he knew Nazaryan slightly. Prosecutors later learned that Nazaryan had worked in Ver Hoeve's office for six months in 1993 and had a social relationship with Ver Hoeve and his wife, including being the godmother for one of their children. A second letter from the prosecutor's office said that the Manis agreed to lie to the government to protect one of their siblings. The Manis told authorities that Nazaryan pressured them into lying to investigators and shook them down for money received under their relocation agreements, after she helped secure the agreements. Under continued questioning, Parvin Mani said the kickback arrangement was in place before the relocation agreements were signed. -- by Vince Galloro