HCCA Out at TRMC on November 22; Hospital Served With Warrant

UPDATE: According to a statement from the Tulare County District Attorney’s office, investigators were on the scene at the hospital for “well over 33 hours straight”, collecting evidence since 9am Thursday.

Healthcare Conglomerate Associates will leave the Tulare Regional Medical Center for the last time on November 22 at 5pm.

Additionally, during argument, it was revealed that the hospital had been served with a search warrant from the Tulare County District Attorney’s office. The warrant was served with the assistance of the Tulare Police Department.

The Warrant

 

The district attorney’s office served a warrant for “business records and emails” seized “computers, cell phones, external storage devices, flash drives, payroll records and all emails for a total of seven email addresses,” according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

“As there may be attorney client, doctor patient records contained in the seized items, the electronic data will be reviewed first by a court appointed special master who will then provide all non-privileged information to the investigators of the district attorney for a thorough search for any and all relevant evidence,” the statement continued.

During the proceeding, Levinson didn’t hold back his opinion of the search.

“I can’t speculate as to why that happened, but we know that the district attorney is under the thumb of the [Tulare Local Healthcare] District,” Levinson told the judge.

The office had previously served a warrant at the Southern Inyo Hospital, another hospital managed by HCCA.

Ashley McDow, an attorney representing the Southern Inyo Hospital in their bankruptcy case, stated that the district attorney’s office had “checkboxes” which included “that the property was stolen or embezzled,” “things were used for the means of committing a felony,” and “that these things are things that can be seized.”

“[Investigators] believe that a number of things have been transferred — equipment, medications — that those things have been transferred from Tulare to Inyo,” McDow said at the time.

In Inyo, the officials ultimately left with “a couple thumbdrives full of files.”

The Timeline

HCCA had been previously set to leave the premises on November 27; the Tulare Local Healthcare District, the legal entity which owns TRMC, asked for that to be moved up to today.

That would have given the district the ability to reopen the Evolutions gym, potentially as soon as this weekend.

HCCA had objected to the move, stating that it needed additional time to clear out any equipment it may have and to move personnel records, which it intends to keep.

Nurses and other staff at the hospital are employees of HCCA under the terms of the Management Services Agreement, and although many were transferred to the company, the personnel records still belong to the company.

The district had came to court hoping for an order rejecting the contract today — November 16. That didn’t happen — and at one point Hon. Rene Lastreto II appeared ready to leave the 27th as the rejection date.

Lastreto admonished both sides for the rushed manner in which the case has proceeded before hearing arguments from Riley Walter, the attorney representing the district, and Mark Levinson, representing HCCA.

“This case is contested — many things in this case have been done on extremely short time for a case of this magnitude and difficulty,” Lastreto said. “This is not something the court appreciates.”

That doesn’t end with the order — Lastreto denied, without prejudice, the district’s request to:

  • order banks to stop sweeping funds from the district’s accounts to HCCA,
  • give the District unfettered access to its buildings and equipment,
  • turn over bank statements, deposit records, check registers, PIN numbers,
  • turn over policy and procedure manuals,
  • and prevent HCCA from removing assets, except personnel records, without 24-hour advance notice to the district and an opportuniy to dispute any removals.

Lastreto stated that he couldn’t order those on short notice, and advised them that an adversarial proceeding would likely be a better venue.

The Voice has reached out to Dr. Benny Benzeevi for  comment. When one is received, this piece will be updated.

In Depth: Tulare Regional Medical Center

65 thoughts on “HCCA Out at TRMC on November 22; Hospital Served With Warrant

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  1. Geez Judge Lastreto rushed? You just have to read the contract and see how he has tried to stiff the employees and district ( remember he wanted a smooth transition) to see what character your dealing with here.

  2. I really can’t wait until the financial audit comes out! I know I personally was stiffed on some medical bills. Maybe there will be some jail time for the criminals involved in all of this.

  3. The people of Tulare county should not have to pay more taxes for a hospital that has not been profitable for at least 7 years and a gym that less than. 1%of the people use for the convenience of a few people in Tulare

  4. Dang it……there is a $28 million dollar payment going to be made soon, and so HCCA will be able to steal that money too? This is for that program, sending in money to receive back double…..I don’t think we can get the state to delay that payment.

    Claims are still being paid to the hospital that they are stealing. I would not say stealing if they were paying the vendors with any of it.
    Judge Lastreto rushed? When you need an emergency injunction on something, is that not rushed because of a reason?

    This whole thing was a Vendetta from Benzeevi being under peer review….and Kumar. With Kumar not having privileges at any other hospital and with what’s known about his doctoring skills, he needs to be blocked. Benny intimidating employees so they are scared for their jobs and in the end they didn’t speak out against him for fear of loosing their jobs…….
    and the DA…..I’ll say finally! It’s election year after all, he’s racking up points after not wanting to listen to what was happening.

    • Yes thank you DA for delaying doing something about this months ago when evidence was given to you, where we could have been ahead of this instead of being behind it . I guess you don’t like confrontation or like the judge you felt rushed.

    • What 28 Million dollar payment are you talking about? No such payment is scheduled or expected. Please stop spreading rumors and lies when you have no idea what you are talking about.

      • Benny,

        Stop spreading rumor and lies huh? Why did you spread LIES about how you supposedly “turned a profit” for this hospital in employee meetings back in the day? At one point you said that “HCCA has made profit of 2 million dollars cash on hand.” Or whatever dollar amount you said.

        Yet you couldn’t pay any of the vendors their past dues such as Cardinal Health, Siemens, etc. How is that turning a profit? Anyone can hold onto their cash and NOT pay their bills.

  5. What is wrong with the judge? Does he not see what BENZEEVI is doing. He did not even have the balls to show up in court today. Is he even in the US. and allowing him to keep personnel records because they belong to him. WTF. All he is allowing BENZEEVI to do is bring more hurt to the staff and the people of Tulare. Is the hospital even going to be able to re-open after the 22nd? If so, when? Or is it going to be permanently closed ?There are a lot of people out of work just waiting to hear news. Any news at this point.

  6. So therefore employees will not receive their last checks due Nov 23 but hopefully would be paid Nov 22. Great timing judge he has the money but no incentive now to pay them or offer cobra . Once again employees are collateral damage hope there is a plan here.

    • Filing a claim with the labor board is a must. If the 23rd is the payday and since it is Thanksgiving it should be moved up a day. But since he is to busy taking more equipment that last thing he is probably thinking about is the employees and all the while he is still collecting the money that is coming in daily.

  7. I have a question and would really like help with an answer. I keep reading that Benzeevi has and is removing items from the hospital and clinics I am wondering if the money comes into TRMC and he buys and pays for those removed items with the TRMC receipts, then doesn’t it technically belong to TRMC? Please indulge me with one other question. If he says he personally purchased something and submitted an expense voucher and was reimbursed for the purchase, doesn’t it belong to TRMC? He doesn’t own it if he was reimbursed for it. Just asking.

  8. Wondering……exactly my thoughts. Also was wondering if the new $175,000 Porche will become TRMC property too if purchased with hospital funds.

  9. I have a question. Why is that judge allowing Benzeevi to keep personnel records that contain employee names, address, phone numbers, bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers?

  10. I remember when this hospital was built dr Charlie Matthias and a few others were running it I think at that time a great hospital at that time sounds like we really screwed up hiring these people to run it bottom line greed greed greed greed they need to go to jail hope they do

    • HCCA would have never gotten their foot in the door if it wasn’t for the sitting members of the hospital board at that time. As much as I detest Benzeevi/HCCA I truly detest the Board of Director’s that gave Benzeevi/Kumar carte blanche in creating a management company just so it can manage our hospital any way it chooses to…..with no oversight whatsoever. That board of directors sold out the city…..for what reason I do not know….it is so hard to comprehend why the board did that. Exactly what did they get out of it? What ever were they thinking? Benzeevi is a con man…..he is what he is and he does what he does because that is how he rolls. But that hospital board? Were they in on the con as well?

      • Kumar was. He was rewarded by Bennie for getting HCCA in place. Do not ever forget he helped destroy our hospital. He should never be allowed to step foot in our hospital again.

        • OMG. Kumar should never be allowed back in to TDH are you kidding me? Simple math he has been the common denominator in the past issues and the present ones. Beware this guy will try to sweet talk his way back in …… you give him an inch he will take a mile the community does not need him. We should never be that desperate!

      • Good thinking Barbara. Thanks for reminding us that the initial problem was the board, including Kumar and his little poodle Torrez (Torrez is a total cockroach for selling out his community). Benzeevi was simply an opportunistic parasite. We must make sure that future boards dont sell us out.

    • Those were the good old days. I was just reminiscing about that with my mother. Doctors lived in the community, their children attended local schools, and their offices occupied all the surrounding hospital offices.

      • Bigger isn’t always better. Hospitals can thrive if they are about quality care….not quantity care. Tulare District Hospital never needed to be a Kaweah Delta but it did and continues to need a sound well built hospital building that is well staffed and ran with the emphasis on giving quality care. QUALITY CARE NOT QUANTITY CARE.

        • So expanding the Cath Lab to do stents that save people’s lives is asking too much for our community? Give me a break, thank goodness we aren’t Kaweah delta because they suck

          • Out of control expansion, robbing from Peter to pay Paul, is asking too much…..without a solid financial foundation it doesn’t matter how big a Cath Lab becomes…. the lab can’t serve the people if the hospital collapses…..guess what this hospital did. Poor management, no oversight, and never a Plan B set in place “just in case”! As for Kaweah Delta, it is a fine hospital and it has taken many decades to become what it is….they are not an overnight success story. Tulare District was once a fine hospital and with proper oversight and proper management Tulare Regional will in time once again become a fine hospital too.

  11. There was an oversight committee, they were responsible to oversee the tower… where are they now? What happened? Transparency? They should know about money, wasn’t that their job?

    • They were receiving no financial data just lots of reassurance by Kumar and Bolouki that everything was going well.

      Alberto got on for a vey short time. Began to really push to get info at first he couldn’t get it. Finally he got some things and that is when he could see that bond money was not used appropriately.

      The ultimate job fell on the board and hey failed again because they couldn’t even get correct information. Why Shawn Bolouki was ultimately fired in March of 2012. But then Kumar and Bell brought him back in December and paid him almost $1 million to do so.

      Let’s just say the DA is going to have a lot to sift through.

  12. Saywhat……low blows??? Really? After the job this jerk has done to this community you really are worried about his feelings. Have you checked to see if he has a CURRENT license. Was told by another MD that he does not.
    Personally anything that karma does to him will nit be enough.
    Personally I would like to turn 500 employees loise on him!!!

    • No I was just making a correction to your comment. A lot of people in town have expensive cars. So if you own a Porsche I must assume you stole money somewhere to get it…

  13. I know everyone keeps talking about the hospital reopening but my question is who is going to finish the new tower. Or is it going to just sit there and rot away. Isn’t that why we are paying on the useless bond that the community was ripped off for. Our property taxes have gone up and no new tower.
    And where’s all the new equipment Boluki bought years back. In a warehouse somewhere. Millions of dollars worth that now is probably outdated already. Probably sold and pocketed already.
    If it were one of us doing all this fraud we’d be in jail..

    • EAG
      One step at a time. Let’s just get the doors open, employees back to work treating patients. I truly believe the tower will get finished and people will be held accountable. It’s like coming back from a hurricane, rebuild one brick at a time.

      • Exactly! Rebuilding will take time and effort but we will rebuild. Folks should pack away their desires for “instant gratification”……if it is done right it will take time and a collective effort to make the hospital stand strong.

  14. Saywhat a.k.a. Benny or a clone, the oversight committee couldn’t do their job because because crooked CEO’s like yourself failed to turn over documents need to do the job correctly, Alberto did his job. Stop trying to divert things away from all the questionable stuff your are doing. Lies about everything, you are the failure

  15. Definitely not benny or a clone just simply asking. He’s the only name I could remember but I know there were others on the committee. I was just wondering how, if there was a committee that over saw the spending how there’s no record of where it went. I thought they would of had their own system in place unrelated to the hospital. That’s why I was asking, so relax, don’t overreact. I was not making any accusations just asking a question.

  16. Saywhat? Some history. Two board members sit on every committee. Dr. Kumar was on the Bond Oversight Committee since inception. In 2013 it was Sherry Bell and Kumar. Alberto was finally accepted to the committee late 2013 despite attending many meetings as a citizen.

    Alberto requested info from Bolouki and he received it. Alberto worked tirelessly though the info and found many errors. He made a report and gave it to bond committee members and each hospital board of director. The report was ignored for some time.

    Alberto went to the source when he wasn’t getting truthful answers from the CEO and the person in charge. Can’t recall his name. Alberto asked the construction company for information in regard to change orders. While Bolouki said there was 65, Alberto learned it was over 650 change orders!

    Alberto came close to being kicked off the committee for talking with Harris Construction and sending his emails to them. With Benzeevi, Alberto was told he is not entitled to any bond financial information or the copy of equipment in storage.

    Whatever Bolouki said seemed to be accepted by the committee in regard to monies. Kumar agreed with Bolouki and even said if things looked bad with the tower to keep it quiet and only share positive news. Same for Sherry Bell. Linda Wilbourn was an original bond oversight committee member and replaced Bell when she became a board member.

  17. It never made sense to me why the board brought Boluki back a second time after his first mess. Does anyone know why Sherrie did that? I had heard, of course just hearsay that it was for him to fix/finish what he started.

    • Kumar was sweating bullets and needed to stop that forensic audit that was started after Boulki left. First thing that happened after Boulki came back was stopping the audit that was in progress. You just have to follow the cast of characters it’s pretty obvious what was going on there.

      • There are even meeting minutes where Kumar is asking legal counsel if it is a Brown Act violation if two board members discuss terminating someone. This was in November of 2012, one month before Sherrie Bell and Rosalinda Avitia were sworn in. A month later the interim CEO was fired and Bolouki was brought back and given $1 million to do so.

  18. Looking forward to the hospital reopening and hopefully damage control can be done to reassure the community to come back and recruit amazing doctors…our city deserves it.

  19. It is extremely important that HCCA employees know that their health insurance coverage ends NOVEMBER 22 (not 11/27) and additionally, since HCCA is closing the plan, there will be NO option to buy COBRA coverage,

    Additionally, you should know that under present law, you face a fine if you do not get insurance. One more piece of news I learned today, insurance companies are no longer forced to cover PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS.

    I made Mr. Jamaica aware of what I had discovered earlier this evening so he could pass along to the Board.

    I am glad that I found out about the change of plans on the health insurance today, since I was going to San Francisco for an expensive surgery tomorrow.

    I’m extremely concerned about my well-being but also concerned about the other 525+ FAMILIES who will be impacted by this.

    After talking to Mr. Jamaica, I am quite certain that the NEW board had no forethought of these unforeseen consequences.

    As you might expect, I’m extremely concerned about my health having a life threatening condition and no way to get the help I need.

    I am also extremely concerned about the 525+ FAMILIES who face uncertain times as well.

    I’ve seen everyone having their fun name-calling, and finger-pointing and placing blame. The time for those things is past. It is time to take a good look at where we are and what we have.

    The citizens wanted control of the hospital and now have it (as is, where is). 525 households aren’t so excited about the holidays this year.

    We have a full and complete board now. I fear that the mess they have inherited and the battle they have joined it Is much bigger than they imagined.

    If we are to have a hospital in Tulare we must Focus on the future and work as hard as we can to help the new board to raise this shipwreck and make it seaworthy again.

    We must put our support and yes even our prayers behind the new board. They will not be perfect but who among us is.

    I house divided against itself cannot stand. We must unite and move forward or we will end up with nothing.

  20. Yes even if you get insurence on the 22 you won’t be covered till dec 1. Heaven forbid something happens to you or your family

  21. Final checks did not include accrued PTO which is a requirement by CA law.
    THIS is an HCCA obligation and financial liability. HCCA should have been accruing this in their financial accounting especially since the contract includesd a 30% payroll premium fee.

    Are there any attorneys who want to show support and be an employee advocate and assist in going after HCCA?

  22. Final checks did not include accrued PTO which is a requirement by CA law.
    THIS is an HCCA obligation and financial liability. HCCA should have been accruing this in their financial accounting especially since the contract includesd a 30% payroll premium fee.

    Are there any attorneys who want to show support and be an employee advocate and assist in going after HCCA?

    Help

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