Broward Health halts public meeting on alleged interference with FBI probe

By Buddy Nevins and Dan Christensen, bh

A   public meeting called to discuss whether the North Broward Hospital District’s top lawyer deliberately obstructed an FBI investigation was shut down shortly after it began Wednesday on her advice.

The allegations against general counsel Lynn Barrett will now be discussed in the future behind closed doors. The move to hold the meeting in private was made over the vigorous objections of two North Broward commissioners and the Sun-Sentinel.

“I totally disagree that we can go into the shade for something like this.  I don’t think its good public policy,” said Commissioner Chair David Di Pietro, an attorney.

Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board Editor Rosemary O’Hara told the commission that she had consulted with the newspaper’s attorney and was told that a private meeting on the allegations is “not allowed under the law.”

Most government meetings in Florida must be held in public under the state Sunshine Law.

Barrett ruled that the meeting could be held in private because it involved possible legal action as a result of the investigation.  The Sunshine Law has an exception for discussions of pending litigation.

The vote of the North Board commission was 5-2 to close the meeting. Voting to hold the meeting outside public view were Commissioners Joel K. Gustafson, Rocky Rodriguez, Maureen Canada, Sheela VanHoose and Christopher T. Ure, who attended via telephone. Chairman Di Pietro and Commissioner Darryl L. Wright voted to keep the meeting in the Sunshine.

Commissioners are appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to oversee the $1.2 billion public health system that includes four hospitals and numerous clinics.

The decision was made after an hour-long debate on whether the discussion of Barrett’s alleged actions would jeopardize an ongoing FBI investigation.

Law enforcement says don’t talk

Broward Health security director and ethics officer Carlos Perez-Irizarry, a former federal prosecutor, told commissioners that unspecified law enforcement officials have asked Broward Health not to discuss the probe.

“We have been asked not to disclose the extent and content of what we’ve been asked to do,” Perez-Irizzary said.

The allegations against Barrett came from noted Miami investigator Wayne Black, who was hired by the late North Broward chief executive Nabil El-Sanadi to uncover corruption at the health care system.

In an e-mail sent to the Commission last week, Black accused Barrett of hindering the FBI investigation by refusing to turn over evidence, including the laptop computer of a Broward Health executive under suspicion of wrongdoing. Broward Health is the district’s brand name.

Barrett didn’t talk about the accusations against her. “So how does one respond to allegations when one can’t confirm” to others that there is an FBI investigation, she said.

Instead, she told the commissioners that the meeting should take place with the public excluded so that any investigation not be jeopardized.

Di Pietro, a lawyer who was once a state prosecutor, clearly was upset with Barrett’s advice, which served to keep the discussion about her conduct private.  He said holding the meeting out of the Sunshine was “inappropriate” for a public agency and added, “I don’t want my name attached to it.”

Still, neither Di Pietro nor any other commissioner suggested it was a conflict of interest to close the meeting on the advice of Barrett, whose actions would be a subject of that same meeting.

At one point Di Pietro and lawyer Barrett got into a heated exchange, with Di Pietro insisting that he was never notified by Broward Health’s administration that the investigation was taking place.

“Show me on document, one piece of paper” that would show he was notified, he asked Barrett. She replied that he had heard about it in a discussion in a parking lot.

No date was set for the private board meeting to discuss the investigation.


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Latest comments

  • Not only does Barrett not know the Sunshine law, she lacks integrity and is no longer the credible attorney she once may have been. Her desire to be queen while Dr. el Sanadi was King still persists. The Health system operations continue to be paralyzed while she and her partner in crime Kevin ( I love Mickey Mouse) try to convince the commissioners that she did not cover anything up. You did, are continue to cover up. Remember, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up. Everyone knows you cannot fool DDP! Once he’s on to you, you are done…and he’s in to you. The other members will catch on quickly.

    Approve contracts, make reasonable, responsible decisions that affect the medical staff, the patients and the system and most importantly stop lying!!!! ( you can’t do that because your entire team, even your former rude secretary now analyst attends the meetings they have no business being in, instead of working). She told several bold face lies this evening about Black’s contract. Now the tax payers have to pay ANOTHER outside attorney to get an opinion on something we already know the answer to. You cannot have the meeting in the shade unless it is pending litigation or to discuss strategic planning. Didn’t Myla text you that during the meeting? All lawyers know what can and cannot be discussed in a public forum. Even non lawyers in public health system’s know that. Has anyone done an ROI to determine the actual value of all of her young inexperienced attorneys in house and the Foley bills and the Greenberg bills and the other bills compared to having an outside counsel?? Just a thought.

    Lynne: how do you sleep at night with the lies you tell. How can you face your two young impressionable children? Do you tell them you had a great day? That’s right, you can’t cause you are too busy lying and covering up to be home.

    And what about Carlos: the director of security is giving legal advice…someone please check the Florida Bar rules.

    You CANNOT rule Broward Health Lynne!!! You are wasting everyone’s time, effort and energy. Please do the right thing and go back to private practice. Broward Health will survive without you! Work on your exit strategy and let the people of Broward Health get back to work and a sense of normalcy. We have been through more than enough already.

  • Just give it time and she will be out on her ass and maybe with more taxpayer $$$$$ to get rid of her.

  • Since DDP all of a sudden wants transparency, let him transparently disclose his professional role involving physician contracting.

  • Karma comes after everyone eventually. You can’t get away with screwing the tax payers, I don’t care who you are. What goes around comes around. That’s how it works. Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve. I believe that Mr. Bravo got what he deserves. He should be prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison for his malfeasance. How ironic it would be, Bravo goes to prison and Richie Persaud, who is as corrupt as Bravo, remains the director of purchasing….

  • After reading all of the posts and articles contained within the Sun Sentinel and Floridabulldog over the past few weeks, it seems to me this mess will not get resolved without honest federal level intervention, and that it starts with our all-too-dishonest governor and then trickles down. The governor appointed the Florida Inspector General (FIG), the Broward Health (BH) board of commissioners (BOC), and the BH CEO, the latter NOT a position the governor is to appoint yet seemingly done because the CEO had contributed big bucks to the governor’s campaign, and who knows what else. Then there is all of the cronyism, be it outrageously over paid physicians (many of whom also contributed to the governor and other political friend’s campaigns), outrageously overpaid BH executives who also received outlandish compensation packages when termed for pitifully poor performance, or Foundation Board Members who receive outrageously lucrative contracts within BH in exchange for their charitable contributions to BH. Then there is grand larceny, and kick backs within the purchasing department. And last, aside of inept senior leadership, there are allegations of gross (and I mean gross) sexual misconduct in the work place by an apparently known sexual predator. My take on the FBI and Fl IG investigations are this: I believe the FBI is looking into the larceny/kick backs, and the sexual misconduct was a side bar finding that should not deflect attention away from the much bigger federal crime although it should be investigated and resolved on the state level; I believe the governor initiated the FL IG investigation purely because of the FBI investigation, because he must separate himself for his own political survival, and throw some some friends under the bus in order to deflect attention from his own dirty hands in oder to pursue his continued political aspirations; I believe Dave DiPietro is following the governor’s lead, all of a sudden claiming to want transparentcy, thus deflecting attention away from himself, leaving those too stupid and too late on the uptake to see the train headed non-stop,full-steam ahead their way; I believe the purchasing dept director has one heck of a serious mental health problem, including sexual addiction, which I am not giving a pass on, that I hope will be properly managed on the state level, criminally and psychologically, as stated previously; I agree with one blogger who said the law needs to be changed so the governor can’t elect the BOC, and the BOC should be comprised of caring and skilled community servants who have the health system’s and its patient’s best interests at heart; and lastly, I hope the OIG will reopen and broaden their investigations; I hope Medicare and Medicaid will audit every bill submitted over the past decade for upcoding and medical necessity, and take away the right to bill CMS for any doctor found guilty, plus pursue criminal charges; I hope the IRS will perform a 5-year retrospective (or maximum allowed retrospective time frame) audit on every physician found to have been overpaid, or to have entered into a fraudulent medical director contract with BH; I hope the IRS will perform a similar audit of every c-suite executive past or currently employed at BH; I hope the IRS will perform a similar audit on all Foundation and BOC members, past and present within the past decade; I hope monies recovered for any and all of these crimes will somehow be returned to the people from whom it was robbed; I hope the people who are able to read and write , and who have seen all of this ugly news, will raise their voices and demand change to Florida law whereby the governor may NOT elect the BOC, and that the BOC be comprised only by needed, skillful, caring residents of this community. If all else fails, I agree that what goes around comes around, and one way or another they will all pay their piper. This is one of the most disgusting things I have ever read or blogged about.

  • It appears that the public is not aware that Broward Health is not 100% taxpayer funded. In fact, tax dollars only amount to somewhere in the 20% range of their budget and are used only to pay for the indigent and ever increasing illegal population. The remainder of patients pay with insurance, cash or Medicare/ Medicaid and those are the funds used to pay salaries, etc. If you want to complain about your tax dollars being misused, start paying attention to the County Commission.

  • So sorry, not. County taxes, applied for PPUC funding, is used to care for the indigent and if I’m correct, pays most of the doctors in excess of what Medicaid would reimburse the docs. As for Medicare, coding issues and questionable medical necessity is another naughty way the docs get ahead. Good try, but no cigar!

  • I would like to address the continuing ineptitude within BH leadership despite the five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) and legal problems exposed to date. Today, I would like to start with the VP of Corporate Compliance, and I welcome her to join the discussion to explain her side.

    She was hired sometime between 2010-2012, fully aware when BH was placed on notice by the OIG of their investigation into illegal kickbacks and violation of the Stark law. She has had at least 4 years to review the requirements within a standard Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA), to perform a gap analysis between what the standard CIA required and what current policy and practice was within BH, and to begin writing and implementing all required standard policies and practices at least 4 years in advance of the CIA, not after, as she did. This being bad enough, she has yet to meet all required deadlines within the CIA. As a result, BH, or shall I say the tax payers, are again paying fines to the OIG. As VP, you have fired every director you have had, seemingly to displace your own incompetence on to them. Now you have no one left to blame. So, please my dear, share what the tab has been thus far in fines related to not meeting CIA deadlines, and please tell me who is protecting you as assuredly it is someone very high up!

  • Anyone know why all of the 2016 Board of Commissioners meeting notices on the website have been removed? Also, why aren’t the minutes from the December 2015 Board of Commissioners meeting posted??? Isn’t this a Sunshine Law requirement?

  • I’ve been wondering about the December minutes as well
    They do usually take some time to appear but I can’t rememember how long
    And yes you are correct, the 2016 schedule and agendas are no longer there.

  • Perhaps taking down BOC meeting notices and minutes speaks more loudly, clearly, and honestly than DDP’s supposed desire for transparency – LOL

  • @ Matrix & The Real Betrayal – the calendar is still on the site:

  • Pickled you got it right. Miss Donna Lewis need to quit. She haS never done an audit in her life & still not doing anything despite the CIA. Check & ask her about COP. Maybe she got something with her HR VP that’s why she’s holding on to her high paying government job.

  • Yes, it is now
    But it was not there when we both noticed
    I would also like to point out that although the January minutes are posted the December minutes are not

  • Thanks, Matrix. Yes, the 2016 postings returned after a prolonged disappearing act and the December 2015 have yet to make their debut…surely they were transcribed before the now posted January 2016 minutes…so one has to wonder, “What’s the status, Gladys?”

  • PPUC is a joke – the patient wait MONTHS to be seen by a general physician only to find out they have to wait more months to see a specialist for something they now have on the brink of death, as so much time has passed. Look into the months, years these patients wait to be seen. Then look at the physicians, call their offices, the ones with the contracts – they don’t accept Medicaid after they accept their bare minimum for the week, month or year.

    We are all giving all this information, but for what? Who, with any authority is reading any of these comments? Is Bulldog passing them along to anyone who is not in an assigned position?

    The executives and managers who were let go have the luxury of a year or more salary and a wonderful pension to look forward to, unlike the rest of the 9000 staffers who have to put their own money into their lowly 403b. Executives/managers who have left with more than 5 years of time in this system, and who are outrageously overpaid have also received incredible compensation packages even when “fired”. And then, don’t forget, they receive their pensions, all much like our congress. Hang out, don’t work, don’t be creative or thoughtful – keep everything status quo and milk the mother cow…that’s what it’s all about.

    Many wonderful people have been let go because of Frank Nask’s lack of management experience. All of these replies, and no mention of Frank, why? Has everyone forgotten? He carried out an incredible attitude that only the “golden” could be seen with him. The employees were “lucky” to see him at any of their employee picnics or barbeques. He and his CFO, Debbie and the Sr. VP of Marketing went everywhere together…Frank had his women surrounding him and the rest of us were lucky to see him leaving in his car. He contributed an enormous amount to the mess this place is now in.

    I’d like to hear other people’s comment about Frank…and how they think it came to this..

  • To Awkward Moment,

    Your comments are brilliant. Have you thought about sending them directly to the OIG, FBI, etc.? I feel these comments on this location, although terrific, are not being read by the people who really need to hear all of this.


  • Look into the monetary value of the PPUC contracts and all of the conflict of interest disclosures Dan.

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