Fort Lauderdale federal grand jury subpoenas Broward Health’s purchasing records

By Dan Christensen and Buddy Nevins, gjpic

A Fort Lauderdale federal grand jury has slapped a subpoena on Broward Health, demanding records related to an ongoing FBI investigation focused on its purchasing practices, two knowledgeable sources have told

The subpoena, served earlier this month, is said to seek information about former hospital district procurement officer Brian Bravo and 16 companies that do business with Broward Health. They include MedAssets, a Georgia-based group purchasing organization for the Broward system and other hospitals (NASDAQ: MDAS) with a market capitalization of $1.87 billion.

The subpoena seeks those records going back 10 years. The name of veteran Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil is on the subpoena.

“I’m told the (administrative) staff is on shutdown, spending hours finding all these documents,” one source said.

Broward Health’s attorneys declined to release a copy of the federal grand jury subpoena, saying it is exempt from disclosure under Florida’s public records law.

Fort Lauderdale Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil

Fort Lauderdale Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil

Commissioner Joel Gustafson, asked if he was aware of the grand jury’s subpoena, said, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to answer that question. We’ve been admonished not to talk about any alleged investigation. If I find that I can, I’ll call you back.”

At the same time, has learned that top Broward Health staff – chief executive Kevin Fusco, general counsel Lynn Barrett and security director and ethics officer Carlos Perez-Irizarry – have phoned board members to privately update them on the status of the criminal investigation. The move avoided a public discussion of those details.

Commissioners were told that district administrators, criticized in Miami-based investigator Wayne Black’s email for having blocked the FBI’s investigation, are cooperating and turning over requested records, although no time frame for compliance was given. They were also told that general counsel Barrett has waived a claim of privilege to certain documents, facilitating their production.

One of the items turned over: Bravo’s laptop.

The decision by Fusco and the others to brief commissioners individually, thus possibly outside the Sunshine Law, is problematic.

Sunshine law

Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual, compiled by the attorney general’s office, cites a 1979 appeals court ruling that held a series of private meetings between a school board superintendent and individual members of the school board were subject to the Sunshine Law.

“While normally meetings between the school superintendent and an individual school board member would not be subject (to the Sunshine Law), these meetings were held in ‘rapid-fire succession’ in order to avoid a public airing of a controversial redistricting problem,” the manual says.

Joe Jacquot, a lawyer with the Foley Lardner law firm that represents Broward Health, said private updates for commissioners don’t violate the Sunshine Law. “As you say, staff appears to be updating individual board members in the normal course,” said Jacquot.

Broward Health officials have said Bravo was fired in December. On Sunday, hospital district board chairman David Di Pietro told This Week In South Florida that Bravo received an “unbelievable” severance package while he was under investigation by the FBI. The deal included a $17,000 payout for personal leave time, plus Bravo remains on Broward Health’s payroll until June.

Black, the private investigator hired last year to look into corruption allegations at Broward Health, told commissioners in a recent email that Bravo “was bragging about getting $75,000 BH (Broward Health) to pay his criminal defense attorney.”

Bravo did not respond to detailed requests for comment. Joel Hackney, chief executive officer of MedAssets, also did not respond to a detailed voicemail requesting comment.

Broward Health spends tens of millions of dollars on medical supplies every year. The district hired MedAssets in December 2007 in an effort to reduce the cost of supplies.

An undated company press release quotes Bravo: “MedAssets has been very effective in working with our leadership team, departments and physicians to review utilization and to implement strategies to reduce physician preference item supply costs while maintaining the quality of patient care.”

Supply costs can represent as much as 31 percent of a hospital’s cost per case, according to a 2006 academic study cited by the Milbank Quarterly, a healthcare journal.

“Gaining control of the hospital’s supply chain – the flow of products and associated services to meet the needs of the hospital and those who serve patients – presents special challenges,” the journal reported. “This is because the most expensive materials – up to 61 percent of the total supply expenditures – are for items about which physicians have a strong preference.”

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17 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Keep on top of the wagging tail, Dan, and be sure not to lose track of the rest of the dog!

  2. Delicious! Thank you, Dan and Buddy!

  3. Pickled says:

    i watched the DDP interview on channel 10. Pathetic that every word he said is not trustworthy.

  4. Sunshine Law (Refresher) says:

    In case Ms. Barrett & Company need a quick refresher. In a nutshell:


    Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law,provides a right of access to governmental proceedings of public boards or commissions at both the state and local levels. The law is equally applicable to elected and appointed boards, and applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foreseeably come before that board for action. There are three basic requirements of s. 286.011, F.S.:

    (1) meetings of public boards or commissions must be open to the public;
    (2) reasonable notice of such meetings must be given; and
    (3) minutes of the meetings must be taken and promptly recorded.

    The complete text of the Government in the Sunshine Law and related statutes may be found in Appendix B.

    A constitutional right of access to meetings of collegial public bodies is recognized in Art. I, s. 24, Fla. Const. See Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company v. Magaha, 769 So. 2d 1012, 1021 (Fla. 2000), noting that the Sunshine Law “is of both constitutional and statutory dimension.” Virtually all collegial public bodies are covered by the open meetings mandate of this constitutional provision with the exception of the judiciary and the state Legislature, which has its own constitutional provision requiring access. The only exceptions are those established by law or by the Constitution. The complete text of Art. I, s. 24, Fla. Const., may be found in Appendix A of this manual.

  5. muddywaters says:

    Given the fact that NES had a very close relationship with Mitchell Berger, I hardly think hiring him to investigate the investigation makes any sense at all.

    If the board wants an unbiased investigation, look elsewhere. Just cut to the chase, cut him a seven figure check and move on. That’s what this is all about anyway. GREED IS GOOD…New Branding message for Broward Health.

  6. That Guy says:

    Can’t we al just get along!

  7. Pickled says:

    If you look at BH main web page, their new slogan is “they don’t know the meaning of the word quit.” How fitting!

  8. Raindancer says:

    Follow the $$. It’s all going to come to light. People are going to go down. Everyone is scrambling to cover their ass. Either that or kill themselves. Thank you Florida Bulldog for some excellent reporting.

  9. Anyone know why the December 2015 Board of Commissioners Minutes have not been posted on the website???

  10. A Fascinated Citizen says:

    Bulldog, please send all the comments from all the stories to the OIG and the FBI. From what I see, there are additional wrongdoings that need to be investigated, which the current investigations aren’t mentioning.

    All those top dogs for the last few years under Franky Nask high-tailing it either out of town or who no longer work there have stories to tell. The contracts from the previous marketing firm In Miami to the waste of hundreds of billboards – maybe someone was a silent partner is those firms as well.

    Our guess is from the Sr. VP of Operations, the VP of Purchasing, the VP of Strategy (formerly with Scott’s firm HCA), and the Sr VP of Marketing (all of who no longer work there ), lots of high end spending occurred – with and without contracts.

    They need to be held accountable as individuals — bring on the fines — they can all afford it. If you have read other publications you know they were make hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece!!! Now we get to pay for their Pensions!

    Has anyone thought about the suicide not actually being a suicide at all? Just sayin’.

    They should all be ashamed of themselves.
    Very sad.

  11. Qui Tam says:

    Be it a federal or regional investigation, the designated investigators will only go so far as the politically intended/ordered scope of their investigations. We need investigative journalists who are not afraid, and who can and will go the full distance regardless of barriers encountered. Cayman Islands, anyone?

  12. an honest soul says:

    Why isn’t Frank Nask indicted yet? He walked by all of us in the halls, elevator too good to say hello, too wealthy to care, too interested in his”girls”, the highly paid executives, who always surrounded him.

    Frank ….you couldn’t even write your own columns or speeches. Outside PR people had to handle you. But even they couldn’t ever make you likeable to the people who really care for the people you were supposed to be caring about.

    Then you reretired to enjoy that big pile of money you earned through no effort of your own. It was from all of our hard work, our late nights and working with less than what we needed to get the job done. You hid begins your executive assistant. How many times we tried to talk with you, but you were never available.

    Why aren’t YoU and other executives having to pay the fine from the OIG? YOU ARE THE ONES RESPONSIBLE, not the Tax payers.

    You, Frank Nask should be ashamed.

  13. qui tam says:

    Any updates, Dan, on the IG’s purported investigation into illegal contracts?

  14. RickyBobby says:

    The entire admin present and past are untrustworthy. Any new CEO will not know who to trust. I suggest lie detector tests from Kevin Fusco down, to find out who knows the who what where and when. Offer amnesty for those that would spill their guts and prosecute the rest. A clean sweep. Would like nothing better than to see these bunch of vipers perp walked out

  15. Dan Christensen says:

    If there are any newsworthy updates, we’ll report them. So keep checking in….

  16. RickyBobby says:

    Ms. Barrett I presume attended a legitimate law school. Yet she seemed ignorant as to what the Sunshine Law entails,and to the legality of withholding info from the FBI. At the very least, she is employed by the District and had to sign off on their Code of Ethics. So denying knowledge of Bravos laptop, then withholding it,then producing it seems like that would violate the lying section of the Ethics Code. And where any of the minions that work for the District would be fired, as so should she. But that remains to be seen.

  17. qui tam says:

    Ms. Barrett knows EXACTLY what she is doing; the governor’s and Lemieux’s dirty deeds. But so are/have all of Scott’s appointees and Lemieux’s lobbyists, be it the Florida inspector general, the board of commissioners, Zimmerman, El Sanadi, Nask, Fusco, etc. The ONLY real question, after so much regional and national media exposure, is how far the Federal DOJ/OIG, FBI, and Fl Grand Jury will go, and who if anyone will be the poor sucker taking the fall. I predict no checkmate: I predict the politicians will get away with this and only a few pawns, and possibly a token queen will take a fall

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