Broward Health officials accused of violating Sunshine Law

By David Hutton | Jan 17, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE — Five North Broward Health District officials have been indicted by a 17th Judicial Circuit Court grand jury alleging they violated Florida’s open-government law by holding meetings without public notice during which they discussed the termination of the former interim CEO.

The indictment charges Broward Health board Chairman Rocky Rodriguez, Commissioner Christopher Ure and former Commissioner Linda Robison and interim President Beverly Capasso with two counts of violating the Florida Sunshine Law and one count of conspiracy to violate the law, which requires boards and commissions provide notice of meetings and hold discussions in public. In addition, general counsel Lynn Barrett is charged with solicitation to violate the public-meetings law and conspiracy to violate the law. Each charge is a second-degree misdemeanor.

According to the indictment, the Broward Health board set up meetings in November 2016 to discuss the potential termination of former interim CEO Pauline Grant after learning of an alleged antikickback violation involving Grant.

The commission maintained it had voted to remove Grant after an investigation revealed probable violations of the antikickback statute. The meetings were held without notice prior to a scheduled Dec. 1, 2016, special board meeting, the indictment states.

The indictment contends that commissioners met at the Mario’s Catalina restaurant at the Westin Hotel or discussed Grants employment, including a “reportable event,” through telephone communications where “such defacto meetings were not noticed to the public and therefore not open to the public at all times.”

Further, the indictment alleges the Broward Health board failed to provide notice of the meeting during which the commissioners voted to fire Grant, denying the public an opportunity to respond to her dismissal. It also states the commission didn’t properly communicate with the public the action it took regarding Grant's termination.

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