George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 12, 2017, five North Broward Health District executives were hit with criminal charges. A state attorney is alleging violations of Florida’s open government laws for supposedly holding secret meetings at which they decided to terminate the former interim chief executive.

The Broward County State Attorney’s Office served summons on Broward Health’s interim president and CEO Beverly Capasso, current and former board of commissioners members Rocky Rodriguez, Christopher T. Ure and Linda Robison, and general counsel Lynn Barrett. According to court records, a grand jury returned an indictment against them in state circuit court following an investigation.

Broward’s Bad Luck.

The new charges seem to be the latest chapter of a tumultuous past several years for leadership of North Broward Health. The four-count indictment stems from a prior investigation that followed the controversial December 2016 firing of interim CEO Pauline Grant for alleged kickback violations. For more information on this investigation, click here.

Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

The indictment levies misdemeanor charges for alleged violations of the state’s public meetings law, also known as the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law. According to court documents, the four board members and Barrett conspired in late November and early December 2016 to hold secret meetings. They were conducted via phone in which they discussed a “reportable event” allegedly committed by Grant and decided upon her termination.

The meetings allegedly violated the law because they covered business or official acts of the district but were not publicly noticed. Therefore, they did not meet requirements to be open to the public at all times or give the public a reasonable opportunity to be heard on Grant’s termination, the indictment says.

Knowingly violating the Sunshine Law can result in removal from office and a criminal penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a maximum $500 fine, according to state records.

To read the indictment in full, click here.

To read more on Broward Health’s legal woes, click here to read a prior blog I wrote.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you in matters of employment law, click here.

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Hale, Nathan. “Broward Health Execs Charged For Conspiring To Ax CEO.” Law360. (December 12, 2017). Web.

Fleshler, David. “Ousted Broward Health CEO files lawsuit.” Sun Sentinel. (December 20, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

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