Suspended Broward Health board chairman sues Gov. Scott saying removal not lawful

By Dan Christensen and Buddy Nevins, 

Gov. Rick Scott, left, and suspended Broward Health board chairman David Di Pietro

Gov. Rick Scott, left, and suspended Broward Health board chairman David Di Pietro

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott suspended Broward Health Board Chairman David Di Pietro citing the “grave concerns” of his chief inspector general that board members might be interfering with her ongoing investigation.

On Tuesday, Di Pietro fought back with an unusual civil lawsuit challenging Scott’s authority to suspend him. The suit also asks a Broward judge to order Scott to reinstate Di Pietro to Broward Health’s board.

“The suspension of Chair Di Pietro was unlawful and wrong, and not within the parameters of the Florida Constitution. Governor Scott lacked authority to suspend Chair Di Pietro,” says the 34-page lawsuit.

Gov. Scott appointed Broward Health’s governing commissioners, including Di Pietro in September 2011. Nevertheless, the complaint says Scott should be required “to demonstrate both his authority and the jurisdictional basis” for Friday’s executive order suspending Di Pietro.

“Petitioner challenges the sufficiency of the legal basis in that there are no identified acts of misconduct attributable to David Di Pietro,” says the complaint, which also asks the court to nullify Scott’s executive order.

Scott’s order the same day suspending Commissioner Darryl Wright was not challenged.

On Tuesday afternoon, hours after the lawsuit was filed, Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips ordered Gov. Scott to show cause at a hearing as to why his executive order should not be invalidated and why Di Pietro should not be reinstated.

Judge Phillips set a hearing date for 10 a.m. on April 8.

“We will review it when we receive it,” Scott’s press secretary, Jeri Bustamante, said of the complaint.

The Fort Lauderdale attorneys representing Di Pietro are Bruce David Green, Brian Y. Silber and Jay Spechler, a former Broward County Court judge.

The complaint is what’s known as a petition for a writ of quo warranto, Latin for “by what authority.” “The writ is the proper means for inquiring into whether a particular individual improperly exercised a power or right from the state,” the complaint says.

The complaint traces the start of the current uproar at Broward Health to a tip Di Pietro says he received in April 2015 about alleged fraud and kickbacks in Broward Health’s purchasing department. Di Pietro immediately reported the information to Broward Health CEO Dr. Nabil El Sanadi who, at Di Pietro’s suggestion, retained experienced Miami fraud investigator Wayne Black to look into the matter, the complaint says.

Black reportedly found evidence of crimes that he then gave to the FBI, while encountering “great resistance and obfuscation” by Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett, who “refused to turn over key evidence to the FBI” including a laptop computer and cell phone “which was conveniently lost.” The laptop, used by fired procurement boss Brian Bravo, was later turned over.

News of the FBI’s involvement went public shortly after Black emailed the board on Jan. 29 about what was happening behind the scenes. The same day, Scott’s Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel notified Di Pietro that she was conducting a review of every Broward Health contract since July 1, 2012.

The board was to discuss Black’s allegations at a Feb. 10 board meeting, but after Barrett recommended the matter not be aired publicly the meeting was deferred. The attorney general’s office later opined that holding a meeting in the “shade” would be illegal.

A week later, with Broward Health “in a serious state of disarray,” DI Pietro suggested that the hospital district’s audit committee recommend hiring the Fort Lauderdale law firm Berger Singerman as independent counsel. Among other things the firm would work with Broward Health’s internal auditor on the Chief Inspector General’s review, the complaint says.

“Berger Singerman was chosen not only for its stellar reputation in the community, but because they are not politically beholden to anyone in Broward Health or the governor’s office,” the lawsuit says.

Broward Health’s board hired Berger Singerman on a 4-3 vote on Feb. 24.

The suit says that between Jan. 23, the day El Sanadi killed himself, and March 16, Di Pietro was contacted by “a variety of Broward Health employees” to express concern about various “legal and regulatory compliance problems and delays in the contracting process causing problems with patient care.”

One of those employees was Chief Compliance Officer Donna Lewis, who said she was “frightened, scared and disgusted” by what was happening and on March 15 urged Di Pietro to move to replace Broward Health CEO Kevin Fusco and fire general counsel Barrett.

That night, Miguel emailed Di Pietro stating that she’d become aware of a move to remove Fusco and Barrett and suggested the move was retaliation, the complaint says.

“In reality, she had no idea why these employees needed to be removed and had no business interfering with the oversight functions of the board.”

The board voted to replace Fusco and put Barrett on a 30 day review plan on March 16.

Two days later, Scott suspended Di Pietro and Wright.

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Latest comments

  • DDP. So sorry you had to learn your lesson via the school of hard knocks. Hope you too will change for the better. You can’t just wash away your than innocent past. But we all hope you take the gov down, bringing in the Feds if needed.

  • Interesting. Ure last man in, “not a politician” in his own words, yet 2nd in command on BOC, taking precedence over other Rick Scott collaborators who have been on the BOC far longer. Anyone find that to be moron, oops I mean oxymoron?

  • Nice try DP. The Gov does what he wants with respect to the board. Its not the first time a governor removed a board member and neither are you the most politically influential board member to be unceremoniously removed. Some of us have been around since the 70s. But you got balls, I’ll give you that. Especially after the judicial appointment and all. I’m not too impressed with your choice of counsel either. Not exactly the best writing of a complaint I’ve ever seen. Scott is termed out so re-election is a non concern. This complaint is going to hit a dead end. But it sure would be nice if you could help the feds send some folks to club fed.

  • Raindancer and qui tam. You are both so on the money. DDP took and handed out favors, and in the end got caught with his pants down. Impossible to shed tears for him. Played with fire. Got burned. Won some. Lost some. Assuredly no friend to people whose tax dollars support BH, or to the people unfortunate enough to be cared for at BH. But I agree. If he wants to continue to serve as a political pawn, let it for once go to something good for humanity. May he take Scotty boy and his compadres down. Bring in the Feds. Clean this garbage up once and for all.

  • What did Kevin Fusco do wrong that Donna Lewis would want him fired? Who is she anyway?

  • KARMA strikes!!! Keep the stories coming. We’re looking forward to a FOX TV Series. It may be better than O.J. versus the People.

  • Donna is the mediocre compliance officer (making her a perfect fit for Browardhealth), a self-promoting insecure vicious backstabber – everyone who has ever worked with her knows it!

  • I still want to know EXACTLY what Fusco and Barrett were really up to on behalf of Rick Scott, what DDP and Wright specifically did in an attempt to either distance themselves or stop it the plan from occurring (which is hard to believe seeing that photo of them with Zimmerman), and if all of the players are now in place, especially including Barrett, Grant, Rodriguez, and Ure, in order to carry that master plan out. The governor can’t even not alienate himself from Fox News, having clearly shown his disregard for the law, this time related to how a president of the U.S. is elected. So is Rick Scott pushing to turn BH into privatization by bankrupting the system, of course putting the hundreds of millions of dollars into his and his buddy’s pockets, eg Zimmerman, et al, to make the purchase price palatable given the 5 year CIA, and how will he pull it off based on the Fl Statutes????

  • Kevin Fusco is a Dope. A dunce. He did what they told him to do. For the second time in his illustrious 31 yr career he was given the opportunity to right a project in trouble. And for the second time he failed miserably. How does this douchbag still have a job with the district?

  • Whaa,Whaa,Whaa, don’t know who the bigger Bitch is Rick Scott or Di Pietro.Dicks

  • You go DDP!!!
    Make sure you let the Feds know that the investigation by the IG is bogus. You let them know that its only to find the skeletons so they can bury them. You let them know that LBarret has been farming out all matter of clerk level jobs to her layer friends at 650 an hour. You let them know that the RS has nothing better to do than sink BH for his buddies less competition .10 on the dollar take all the funds out of the district by means of all kind of contracts for his well connected friends.

    Only in So Florida can a republican govenor screw the democrates twice. Once by taxing them and then by stealing the money from right under their noses. and claiming that he wants to clean up the district well hes is cleaning out all the money, Oh and there’s that bogus demand for 5.6MIllion for medicaid. I dont think BH even billed medicaid that much. But we want to make it right. I hope the govenor understands that soon he will be in the national spotlight and we wont forget. He might be just as imbarrased as Rubio was. You cant continue to screw us and think that you can get away with it there are 8,000 employees at broward health 2,000 doctors who have sounded the alarm these folks on average have 100,000 friends combined try to win Florida tricky ricky. You wont be able to deliver for Trump By the way what super pack are you funnelling BH cash to?

  • Thank you death throws. Employees reading this need to wake up. Unions will do nothing for you all when Columbia/HCA swoops in and buys each of your facilities for pennies once Rick Scott has bled the organization dry and left your leadership in chaos and irreparable disarray. You won’t be able to call on SEIU to do anything for you. Rick’s plan is in action. BEWARE. BEWARE. YOU WILL NOT RECOGNIZE YOUR ORGANIZATION IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS!!!! NES took his life once he realized he was just a pawn in Scott’s game. The game was to bring down District and was going to cause folks to loose their jobs. DDP finally saw the day of light. The game is afoot.
    WAKE UP!!!!

  • Rick Scott never held public office prior to being elected governor of Florida. His only other job has been as a hospital executive. One who got aeay with the biggest Medicaid scam in history. His number one reason for running for governor was so he could tap into all the billions of dollars generated by the state’s taxpayer supported hospital districts. Soon after taking office he signed an executive order authorizing a Commission on Hospital Spending, essentially auditing the books of all the hospital district in order to ensure efficient spending. Scott’s commission reported back to him. He and his cronies targeted 2 districts for a private takeover. One was Broward Health and the other is Tampa. The folks in Hillsboro county are proving to be formidable resistance. The folks in Broward, not so much. The Gov needed to get all his men in place. El Sanadi had given him over 20k for his campaign and gave more to his Lets Get To Work PAC, so he got the CEO gig. Everything was in place, from the appointed board, to the CEO, to the legal counsel. Scott even made sure his buddies got greased and orchestrated long term, no bid deals that would maneuver money back to him and his friends.Then shit happened. El Sanadi killed himself and people started digging. Lots of fraud, and kick backs and other illegal activity. Same shit that’s being going on since the 70s. Everyone is scrambling to cover their ass. Is the gov gonna get his way and take this thing private? Are people who broke the law going to be held accountable?

  • Amen Take Heed thank you

  • Rain Dancer seems you should be speaking to the Feds, Mr Black and the OIG. Its about time someone with this much knowledge shares with the right people. Theres nothing more warming to my heart than to know that RS will finally pay the piper.

    The thing about BH vs Hillsborough is that BH has never had a strong CEO. They have always been well connected, yes men, or downright not qualified for the job. Heck if RS could get away with it he’d place a trained monkey and a parot to run the 10th largest system in the US.

    Senior Leadership has always been a joke at BH. Now that P Grant is there at least the employees and the Physicians will have a fair shake and the slime balls are going to try to dance around her.Lets hope she knows how to tell the good guys from the 2 faced slime buckets.

  • HCA…here they all come. …you got some real
    Winners already from BH corpoarate…bet more will be coming so they can build another little kingdom…watch out marketing managers…BH GIRLFRIENDS with non degrees, known for bullying will be swooping in for your jobs!

    P.S. Where is Frank Nask in all of this? Still enjoying his big fat golden parachute, having secret rendezvous and a pension plan that’s bigger than any of us can fathom….for truly ruining this company?

  • Scott had MHS in his rifle scope early on but Sacco outfoxed him. Now that is to be admired! Aside of wondering where Nask is, how about Breen and Echelard? I once heard a rumor that Breen let the switches on the emergency generators go past expiration date at BHMC despite having a trauma program, premature babies and children in ICUs on life support, etc. I heard she got a nice a severance. For what, with that kind of stupidity?

  • Maybe we’ll all be lucky enough for him to be home!
    “Gov.Scott’s beachfront property is in the path of sea level rise projections in the state, putting the governor in “one of the most vulnerable positions” in regards to rising waters, the Times reports. The governor’s $9.2 million Naples mansion sits about 200 feet away from the ocean and a foot above sea level, and the sea on his stretch of beach has risen about 8 or 9 inches over the last century. That rate is in line with other parts of South Florida — a tide gauge in Key West has documented a rise in sea level of 9 inches over the last century, an increase that’s led to flooding, both after rains and when the sun is shining. And Gov. Scott’s home isn’t the only one in his area at risk: a 2012 report found that sea level rise will triple the chance of a storm surge that would put more than 11,000 homes in Naples at risk of flooding by 2030.”

  • Although I would like to thank Dr. Sizemore Ruiz for her article in the Sun Sentinel, I would also like to clarify for her that when she says BH must be built from the bottom up, not the top down, that she failed miserably to include the nurses, RTs, RDs, PTs, OTs, MSWs, housekeeping staff, lab and imaging techs, etc. You see doctor, without them patients will not receive the absolute needed care, unless you can wave a magic wand and miraculously accomplish that by yourself and with the remaining doctors, c-suiters, and board members. You, every physician, every administrator and board member at BH still fail to recognize the REAL “bottom” needed to keep your doors open and functioning. It is these dedicated, hard working, under appreciated, and clearly unrecognized individuals who keep those doors open and provide the essentially needed patient care each and every day!

  • After reading March 27th Sun Sentinel “Rush to Judgment at Broward Health”, we realize you have hit rock bottom Lynn Barrett. Just when we thought you were already a low-class lawyer, you appear to have put yourself in the gutter. The nerve of celebrating with your team of dwarves, following the governor’s decision to suspend DDP. You could have and should have kept quiet and shown some decency of class. Oh, but that’s right. You don’t have ANY!!! We all look forward to the next batch of contracts you slide under the rug, and the lack of respect we anticipate you show towards Ms. Grant, a very honorable and respected CEO. Let’s see how you ‘white trash of a lawyer’ handles a new week. Your 30 days are dwindling.

  • BHN is a hell hole. i hope the selfish lowlifes responsible get their just deserts. heres an idea…make them go there for their health needs! theyll be lucky if they make it out alive.

  • White trash..really Doris, you have hit rock bottom there. Mrs. Grant is dirty and has been living off BH for years. None of you deserve a lick of respect.

  • Zimmerman kicked LaMarca to the curb. And voila! We’re all supposed to believe Chippy boy resigned and that Zimmerman didn’t use him as a fall guy to distract from his own slimy intentions. Some “f” fest!

  • I hope we will hear more about this subject after the hearing on Friday between DiPietro and Scott. I have many friends at Broward Health and every single one of them has said Scott is taking their concerns out of context to push forward his hidden agenda. How does this creep keep getting away with it? If it isn’t committing Medicare fraud, it’s using tax payer money to pay off $700,000 law suits against him in Florida instead of using his own money. And Bondi? There is a great article about her receiving $25,000 from Donald Trump and then mysteriously not moving forward with a law suit against his Trump U scam though NY did push forward due to well-founded consumer complaints. We live in such a scandalous state!

  • I hope Broward employees wake up and start reporting all the wrong things that going on in this place. People should go to jail. I feel sorry for taxpayers and Employees.

  • that happened with the case of Broward Hospital?

    that it will Bian Bravo?

    If justice of here is not the best in the world?

    or all that talk about the Lord Brian is false?

    that sexual harassment is very serious and people want to know is happening?

    if I were talking about that Mr. injustamete, their trestaferros and monies received by Faude

    pubiquen happened please the good of the community

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