Florida Bulldog by Dan Christensen
December 12, 2017
P.M. UPDATE: Broward Health’s top leadership, including its CEO and board chairman, are named in a four count indictment alleging violations of Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law.
Florida Bulldog obtained a copy of the four-page indictment Tuesday afternoon that accuses five defendants – Broward Health CEO Beverly Capasso, Commission Chairman Rocky Rodriguez, Commissioner Christopher Ure, former Commissioner Linda Robison and General Counsel Lynn Barrett – of 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 also was charged alone in one count that accuses her of solicitation to violate the Sunshine Law.
The alleged crimes are all second degree misdemeanors. The defendants were not arrested. Rather, each was given a summons to appear for arraignment on Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. before Broward County Court Judge Jill Levy.
Gov. Rick Scott’s press secretary Lauren Schenone said Tuesday evening that Scott was reviewing whether he would suspend Rodriguez, Ure and/or Barrett. The governor has the authority to suspend from office officials charged with felonies, but it was not immediately clear if that power extends to allegations involving misdemeanors related to official acts.
The State Attorney’s Office did not immediately release the indictment, but did issue a press release summarizing events late Tuesday afternoon. An anticipated narrative report was not released.
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Selden and Westling are out-of-state attorneys who conducted an “independent” investigation of Grant and advised Broward Health’s board about how it should address the investigation’s findings, which were highly critical of Grant and presaged her dismissal.
Florida Bulldog has reported that both firms, however, have deep ties to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose oversight powers at the district include choosing Broward Health’s board of commissioners.
Count I alleges the four commissioners met out of the public eye at the hotel and restaurant to discuss “a reportable event,” that is the report’s findings about Grant that they contended was necessary to report to the Justice Department under the terms of a Corporate Integrity Agreement that was part of a $70 million settlement in August 2015 of a federal whistleblower suit alleging massive healthcare fraud by Broward Health.
Count II alleges the four commissioners broke the Sunshine Law at the Dec. 1, 2016 special board meeting by not properly providing the public with advance notice.
Count IV is the conspiracy count involving all five defendants. It alleges that in the weeks before the Dec. 1, 2016 vote, the five conspired to privately discuss the “reportable event” in de facto meetings that were not noticed to the public “and therefore not open to the public at all time.” [READ MORE]