Tulare County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalashian has taken control of the criminal case against the former management team of the Tulare Local Health Care District (TLHCD). He will oversee the first arguments in the case during a hearing of demurrer scheduled for August 2.
Hearing Delayed Until August
Facing dozens of felony charges stemming from their actions while managing the TLHCD and its hospital–as well as during their time as the management team for the smaller Southern Inyo Healthcare District and its hospital–are CEO Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi, Alan Germany and attorney Bruce Greene.
The trio are accused of mismanagement, various frauds and property crimes committed after they took control of the TLHCD through a ridiculously lucrative long-term management contract between the district and Health Care Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), a company owned and controlled by Benzeevi.
The attorneys defending the trio now intend to argue the Tulare County District Attorney mishandled the case, and that they did not have the authority to prosecute Benzeevi, Germany and Greene. The filing — known as a demurrer — seeks dismissal of all charges on procedural grounds.
Attorneys for each defendant have filed their own demurrer, and both Greene and Germany have filed to join in on arguments advanced in Benzeevi’s massive 80-page demurrer.
The hearing of the demurrer will now take place on the morning of August 2.
DA Says Defense Baseless
The DA’s responses claim the defense has failed to establish reason for dismissal, while taking the opportunity to cast aspersions at the prosecution.
“Along the way the Defense has laid a meritless claim of prosecutorial misconduct, misstated the People’s arguments, claimed that the complaint and information have different rules of pleading, erroneously stated People have stipulated to facts, along with many other misleading statements and arguments,” one response, which was filed in late April, states.
Attorneys for the defense did not respond to requests to discuss the case or the reasoning behind their filings.
Celebrity attorneys Jose Baez, who defended accused murderer Casey Anthony in a case that caught national attention, and Ronald Sullivan, who along with Baez contributed to the legal defense of convicted rapist and former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, recently joined Benzeevi’s defense team alongside Fresno attorney Oliver Wanger.
Germany is being defended by Fresno-based Kevin P. Rooney, and Greene is being defended by David C. Scheper and Jeffrey L. Steinfeld, Los Angeles-based attorneys.
The defense teams will have to explain themselves to Judge Kalashian during the August 2 hearing. The attorneys have requested an entire day to argue the filing. No courtroom has been assigned yet for the event.
Rumors Surround Case
Speculation surrounding the case puts a high price tag on the defendants’ legal teams, making any delays potentially costly.
Meanwhile, members of the local legal community who did not wish to be identified say Judge Kalashian is an ideal choice to oversee this case. Kalashian, who retired from full-time work on the bench in 2014, hears few cases, reportedly reserving his time for complicated, high-profile criminal cases other judges would rather avoid.
Kalashian was first elected to the bench in 1992.
$5.6 Million Claim Denied in TLHCD Bankruptcy
While the criminal case continues against the TLHCD’s former management team, on another front the district got some good financial news when a federal bankruptcy judge voided a $5.6 million claim against the district by the state’s Department of Healthcare Services (DHS).
The TLHCD took the rare step of seeking protection from its creditors under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code in 2017, following the ouster of the HCCA management team. At the time, the DHS made a claim against the TLHCD’s bankruptcy estate for an unspecified amount. After reviewing 13 years of records, DHS amended its claim to the $5.6 million amount.
However, that amendment came after a debt-restructuring plan had been approved by the district’s other creditors. On April 27, the judge overseeing the case denied the attempt to amend the claim and ended DHS’s ability to make further revisions.