On January 22 a two-week long evidentiary hearing will commence during which Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) and former chief of Tulare Regional Medical Center, will attempt to recover property and bank accounts seized by the Tulare County District Attorney.
HCCA allegedly sold some assets of Tulare Regional Medical Center and deposited the $3m proceeds into an account belonging to “Tulare Asset Management,” a company wholly owned by Benzeevi.
After that deposit, the District Attorney’s office alleges that Benzeevi later shuffled the funds through HCCA’s bank account and into one shared by him and his wife.
According to the DA’s filings, Benzeevi transferred $2.4m to his personal bank account. The money was also used to pay $499,727.93 to Baker Hostetler, HCCA’s former law firm, and $133,563.38 was paid for a loan application fee to another lender for a similar leaseback the company was researching.
Benzeevi had items seized from his home in early April of last year. At least one hearing in August focused on the seizure of his personal property–computers and thumb drives; subsequently, a warrant was approved that froze his personal Chase Bank account and two HCCA accounts.
Attorneys for Benzeevi and HCCA claim that, under the broad Management Services Agreement (MSA)–the contract by which HCCA managed the daily operation of the hospital–Benzeevi was granted a wide latitude in financial doings.
Superior Court Judge John Bianco cleared two weeks for the hearing. “You’ll have my full calendar,” he said. “From 8:30am to 4:30pm.”
What am I missing here?
If the DA has had the authority to hold property and bank accounts from Benzeevi for the better part of a year, why not charge him with something?
If the DA has enough against Benzeevi to merit a two-week, full-calendar evidentiary hearing, why not charge him with something?
Of course, it’s entirely possible I don’t properly appreciate how these things work.
But I can make predictions.
The start of the year is a good time for them.
Early last year the DA predicted the case against Benzeevi and HCCA would be the most wide-ranging in Tulare County history. And it’s my understanding that, financially at least, the DA has carte blanche regarding investigations.
I think, therefore, after two weeks’ worth of evidence, that charges will be forthcoming.
“I can’t rule that as a matter of law a crime hasn’t been committed,” Bianco said during a November hearing last year.
If the DA can establish to the judge that Benzeevi did indeed commit some kind of fraud then charges would have to be in the offing. Right? Otherwise, how could his property and accounts continue to be withheld?
Without charges, the seized assets cease to become evidence against Benzeevi. This is what the hearing is all about. Right?
Having sat in on a prior hearing, it seems to me that the DA will be successful. The attorneys for Benzeevi and HCCA appear to cling to the letter of the MSA–a contract the hospital was legally let out of.
So I’d be gobsmacked if the DA failed.
I’d also be gobsmacked if, when the DA prevails, no charges follow.