Broward Health leaders accused of violating open-meeting laws
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Current and former Broward Health officials have been accused of violating Florida's open-government laws in the ousting of former interim president and CEO Pauline Grant.
A Broward County grand jury indicted five of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based health system's leaders, who oversee five hospitals in the northern district of the county, for allegedly holding private meetings at which they discussed kickback accusations against Grant and ultimately fired her. The state's Sunshine Laws require public boards hold open meetings that include an action or vote and notify the public with enough time to participate. The indictment carries second-degree misdemeanors and a maximum penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for each count.
In a statement, Broward Health called the investigation by the Broward County State Attorney's Office "predetermined, biased and manipulated from the start."
"The state attorney's office allowed itself to be manipulated by the very same people who were replaced because of their mismanagement and corruption," Broward Health said in the statement. "The SAO's professed interest about enforcing the Sunshine Laws is contradicted by its refusal to subpoena the most critical witness to the grand jury that has essential exculpatory evidence about defendants' compliance with the Sunshine Laws."
Grant was fired on Dec. 1, 2016 after an independent counsel found that she violated anti-kickback laws when she rewarded orthopedic surgeons with emergency room contracts when they referred more patients to Broward Health.
Grant denies the allegations and sued the board following her termination for alleged violations of the open-meeting laws. The taxpayer-supported health system has since counter-sued.
Broward Health has endured both federal and state investigations regarding corruption claims. In September 2015, the health system agreed to pay $69.5 million to settle allegations that it illegally paid nine doctors for referrals. Former Broward CEO Dr. Nabil El Sanadi committed suicide in early 2016.
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