Four top executives at Broward Health have asked the court to dismiss charges that they violated Florida's open government law. Meanwhile, they are taking heat from local leaders for remaining in their positions despite the criminal case.
Rocky Rodriguez, chairman of the board; Beverly Capasso, interim CEO; Lynn Barrett, general counsel; Christopher Ure, board member; and Linda Robinson, former board member, were indicted last week on charges that they violated the state's regulations to ensure government entities conduct meetings in the open.
The executives allegedly held meetings behind closed doors when deciding to fire then-CEO Pauline Grant in 2016. Grant was fired after an investigation found likely violations of anti-kickback laws, allegations that she denies.
In the motion to dismiss (PDF), attorneys for Rodriguez, Capasso, Barrett and Robinson argue that the criminal case is a "witch hunt" and that the indictment was a result of misconduct by state prosecutors. They say prosecutors failed to subpoena Kevin Hyde, an outside attorney who told Rodriguez and Barrett that they had issued a sufficient public notice for the meeting at which Grant was fired.
It also alleges that prosecutors did not call witnesses that could have exonerated them during the grand jury investigation.
Meanwhile, local leaders are questioning whether it is acceptable for the indicted executives to continue on in their roles at Broward Health during the investigation, reported the Sun-Sentinel. Florida state Sen. Perry Thurston said at the hospital district's monthly public board meeting this week that part of the reason Grant was fired is because Broward executives thought it would be inappropriate for her to continue on while under investigation.
"Obviously two board members, the CEO and the general counsel are all under criminal indictment now by a grand jury," Thurston, a Democrat, said. "Should they still be conducting the business of the district, or should they receive the same treatment?"