Nine people, including a former South Florida hospital facilities management director and seven hospital vendors, were charged in a bribery scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.
Adil Osman, 64, the former Director of Facilities Management at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, is accused of accepting kickbacks from vendors in exchange for awarding them contracts to provide goods and services to the hospital, prosecutors said.
Osman, who worked at the hospital from June 2004 to July 2008, was authorized to select vendors on jobs that cost less than $10,000, but had to obtain bids from at least three vendors for jobs costing over $10,000.
Prosecutors say Osman accepted money and several thousand dollars worth of home improvements in exchange for selecting vendors to perform work at MHW. Among those improvements were $1,440 for gutters, a $3,625 deposit for a swimming pool, $3,230 for a fence, $2,000 for cabinets, and $12,000 for an electric generator, prosecutors said.
The vendors then inflated invoices to the hospital to facilitate the kickback payments, prosecutors said.
A nearly identical scheme was in place at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. Two team leaders at MRH, Elliot Gordon and Anthony Merola were charged and pleaded guilty to criminal information charges and are scheduled to be sentenced July 29.
Dorece Gordon, Elliot Gordon's wife, is also charged with filing a false tax return for failing to report cash payments and proceeds allegedly received and improvements to her home, totaling approximately $175,723, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the vendors received over $15 million in contracts between the two hospitals.
The vendors charged in the indictment are Thomas Kennedy, 44, of Davie, Paul Chaiet, 48, of Dania Beach, Richard Cohen, 45, of Wellington, Robert Andrei, 70, of Davie, Thomas Pacchioli, 52, of Weston, John W. Hunter, 64, of Palm Coast, and Louis Columbo, 37, of Lake Worth.
"When individuals engaged in programs receiving federal funds solicit and accept bribes from those intent on paying to gain secret access and reap lucrative contracts, the system has broken down," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. "We will continue to aggressively investigate this conduct act to ensure that government monies don’t fall into the hands of the greedy and corrupt."
"The United States Attorney’s Office has commended our management and security personnel for their assistance in this investigation," Memorial Healthcare Systems said in a statement. "Ever since we discovered irregularities in the Plant Engineering Department and turned over the case to the proper authorities, we have been proactive with all the investigating agencies to bring this case to conclusion."