Grand jury witness fired by Broward Health sues claiming whistleblower retaliation

By Dan Christensen, 

Broward Health President/CEO Beverly Capasso, left, and her former executive secretary Pam Hatfield

A former Broward Health executive secretary has filed a whistleblower suit against the hospital district, alleging she was fired after testifying before the grand jury that indicted her boss, President/Chief Executive Officer Beverly Capasso.

Pam Hatfield was among a string of current and former officials at the taxpayer-supported district  who testified before the grand jury last September. Three months later, Capasso, then-Broward Health Commission Chairman Rocky Rodriguez, Commissioner Christopher Ure, ex-Commissioner Linda Robison and General Counsel Lynn Barrett were indicted for conspiring to violate Florida’s public meetings law, also known as the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

Capasso, Rodriguez, Ure and Robison were also charged with two counts of violating the public meetings law. Barrett was also charged alone with one count of solicitation to violate the Sunshine Law. The five await trial.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott’s newest appointee to Broward Heath’s board of commissioners, Ray Berry, turns out to have an undisclosed connection to the governor.

From June 2011 through June 2014, Commissioner Berry’s Cooper City company, Health Business Solutions, employed the Fort Lauderdale-based lobbying firm of Scott’s longtime pal and confidant William Rubin to lobby the executive branch in Tallahassee. Florida lobbyist compensation records show Health Business Solutions paid The Rubin Group between $120,000 and $240,000 during those four years.

Scott appointed Berry to the board on May 11 despite Berry’s strong financial support for Democrats, including Scott’s 2014 opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist. State records show that less than a month before Election Day, Health Business Solutions contributed $25,000 to Charlie Crist for Governor. Berry also personally gave $2,500 to the Florida Democratic Party during Republican Scott’s first campaign in October 2010. Berry and his company gave $1,000 to Alex Sink, Scott’s opponent in the same election cycle. His company gave Scott $250.

In 2012, Berry even gave $1,000 to re-elect Sen. Bill Nelson, who Scott hopes to unseat this November.

Gov. Scott and Broward Health

Scott has a long and tangled relationship with Broward Health. In addition to having the exclusive power to appoint its board members, he was an investor in a private-equity firm that owned 21st Century Oncology, the Fort Myers-based company given a 25-year, no-bid contract by the commission in 2012 to supply radiation oncology services to the district’s patients.

Despite last December’s indictment, Scott chose not to suspend any of the indicted Broward Health officials. Two months before, however, he’d suspended Madison County’s clerk of courts after he was charged with petty theft.

Lobbyist William “Billy” Rubin, left, and Gov. Rick Scott

Capasso was serving as interim CEO when the indictment came down. But instead of a suspension, Broward Health’s board voted 4-1 on Jan. 31 to give her the $750,000-a-year job full time. Capasso also stands to collect incentive bonuses that could bring her total take-home pay to $1,125,000.

Capasso’s deal, however, didn’t sit well with Gov. Scott. On April 20, he sent a letter to Broward Health’s board questioning the “appropriateness” of her “significant increase in base pay and bonuses.”

“It is my expectation that any bonus be performance-based and in this case, the measures should include a reduction in the dependence of the district on taxpayer dollars, quality care and patient satisfaction, hospital profitability and patient access to care,” Scott wrote. “As a board member of a hospital district that receives more than $140 million in taxpayer dollars, I urge you to take action to ensure the appropriateness of total compensation and accountability through performance measures.”

At the May 30 regular board meeting, commissioners discussed plans to address the governor’s concerns at a special meeting following the June 27 meeting. (You can view the May meeting at the Dan Lewis Report here.)

Whistleblower complaint

Hatfield’s whistleblower complaint was filed in April. Her complaint against the North Broward Hospital District, Broward Health’s legal name, says that when she was wrongfully dismissed on March 16 she was the “longest-tenured of five senior executive secretaries” at the district.

The lawsuit says Hatfield was sought out as a witness by Assistant State Attorney Tim Donnelly, chief of his office’s Public Corruption/Special Investigations Unit.

“Donnelly initially subpoenaed Hatfield to give a sworn statement in December 2016 and later to appear before the Broward County Grand Jury in September 2017,” the lawsuit says.

Florida Bulldog and later the Sun-Sentinel reported in late September that Hatfield had testified before the grand jury. At one point, Capasso “commented to Hatfield about her having testified,” the lawsuit says.

“She said to Pam something along the lines of, ‘Well, we will all find out what you said sooner or later,’ ” said Hatfield’s Fort Lauderdale attorney William Amlong.

Five weeks after the Dec. 12, 2017 indictment, Hatfield was told that she was being transferred away from Capasso to work for Sandra Todd-Atkinson, chief executive of the district’s Fort Lauderdale hospital, Broward Health Medical Center, at the same title and pay, the complaint says.

On March 16, Hatfield was told that her new position was being eliminated.

According to the complaint, Broward Health “retaliated” against Hatfield because of her testimony.  Hatfield is seeking permanent reinstatement, money damages, lost wages and attorney’s fees and costs.

Broward Health has not yet filed a response. The case is assigned to Judge John Bowman.

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Latest comments

  • The Board will not fire Capasso or Barrett (who are the root cause of Broward Healths demise) unless the Employees DEMAND that these indicted, unethical, fake degree people are run out.

    Broward Health Employees need to get a back bone and fight for what is right. Scott is running for election he won’t do anything unless he thinks he will lose votes.

  • Are y’all shittin me, how is this evil, lying feckless cunt still the CEO. What in the name of fuck is wrong with the employees and tax payers. Run this corrupt bitch out of town on a pole, tarred and freathered. Just SMFH at this blatant criminality. This whore and her minions have to go. NOW

  • Why isn’t the State’s Attorney Satz prosecuting Capasso for witness tampering and putting her in jail like Paul Manafort?

  • when will their trial take place?
    Sometime never???

  • The hearing is tomorrow June 20, 2018. But don’t worry nothing will happen until after Senate race, Florida justice is rigged in favor of white crime, and Broward Health’s corruption goes all the way to Gov. Slick Rick The Dick.
    What is hysterical is that the clerk of courts case search “Beverly Capasso” filed another person’s 6/16 arrest paperwork. I jumped for joy thinking Capasso was held to account until I learned it is a misfiled mistake.

    Anyway, you can follow the case progress via this website.

  • But the average citizen doesn’t read the Bulldog. How about sharing info with letters to editors all over the state?

  • Broward County Case Number: 17010884MM10A

    Check out here:

    6/16/2018 1 MJ18000815 Arrest
    Name At Arrest: Capasso, Beverly
    Offense: Violation Of Sunshine Law
    Degree: (M2)
    Statute: 286.01(1)
    OBTS Number: 0801800812

    06/16/2018 2 MJ18000815 Arrest
    Name At Arrest: Capasso, Beverly
    Offense: Violation Of Sunshine Law
    Degree: (M2)
    Statute: 286.01(1)
    OBTS Number: 0801800812

    06/16/2018 3 MJ18000815 Arrest
    Name At Arrest: Capasso, Beverly
    Offense: Conspiracy to Violate Sunshine Law
    Degree: (M2)
    Statute: 286.011(1)(2)(3)(b)
    OBTS Number: 0801800812

  • We have people criminally indicted running the system.
    We have a governor who has turned his head and will not intervene
    We have blatant punitive action taken against employees who give evidence under subpoena
    We have difficulty with contracts and fellow physicians leaving because of poor care
    We have staff who posed and smiled with the president while young children suffered and died at a terrible tragedy. (Only one sub standards foreign doctor stood with him)
    We have all new C staff in all hospitals
    We have a publicly funded health system with criminals making millions and effecting health care of all
    Just saying

  • Why is nothing being done about all of this. Great leaders are dismissed but these leaders are still employed making lots money. This month all will get a huge bonus. Nothing for staff or the leaders that did all the work all year. Close the doors

  • I knew she was going to get fired because of her testimony. I knew she had pissed off the wrong people by telling the truth. Pam was a loyal and dedicated employee and happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. She should not have been fired but BH has fired better employees for much less than that. Hopefully she will be vindicated soon enough.

  • BHDOC, I bow to you Sir, I am not worthy. Truth, the sheer Chutzpah of these assholes to effect a profit sharing bonus plan for Admin and Management is beyond the pale. There was NO PROFIT without the taxpayers contribution. You fucks have NO idea what sacrifices the staff have made to keep this disaster afloat. But, unfortunately this Bitch is going down, hit the Berg and on the way down. Time to gather on the deck, listen ton the band,and sing “Nearer to Thee my God”. Sell it or give it up. People get out while you can. They don’t care, Do you? Oh yeah, Admin,… Eat a bag of Dicks, you fucking shitbags.

  • When is the Governor going to realize he is losing more votes by not getting rid of Bev, Lynn, Alan, Gino and most of all the over his head HR Peter. All Peter is good for is hiring 3 vps/mgrs. for every employee he fires. Check out his budget. Talk about increasing taxpayer reliance. Governor Scott wont win Broward county but he might actually pick up some votes if he got rid of this overpaid, under experienced, nasty executive group.

  • Grifters gotta Grif, Prick Scott’s a grifter, he recognizes Grifters, gives them the ballroom to do so, looks the other way bc its expeditious politically cause he wanna be da Senator from Flo re da. Nothing done till after mid terms. Make plans to bail.🌊🚢this bitch is going down.

  • Broward Health Medical Center is the flagship of Broward Health, Level I trauma center Level I pediatric trauma center, NICU, Transplant center, Cardiac Surgery center, really all we do not care for is burns, so why have we had our best CEO fired by Capasso, her friend make a complete mess of our hospital and had to leave and now we have a disliked VP from corporate desperately trying to keep us together. Our visit from the joint commission sucked, loosing many of our managers sucked We are treated and paid poorly and yet the indicted remain in position’s of power causing carnage to our hospital

  • It is so sad to hear all of these comments especially when I have experienced the great care dedication and enthusiasm at Broward Health North . My father was injured a “trauma”, the ED nurses, ICU nurses, 6th floor were all amazing a very humbling experience. Hearing these comments I am saddened that talented dedicated staff are let down by administrators and our governor. I celebrated the 4th of July with new meaning …..LIFE .A life saved by Broward Health North ….. Thank you…. from the bottom of my heart …..Thank you I am so humbled by you all

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