Broward’s Health’s general counsel failed to cooperate with the FBI and withheld evidence, according to an explosive e-mail sent last week by a private investigator hired by the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi to look into alleged corruption at the public hospital system.
The email, obtained by Floridabulldog.org, is from Wayne Black, a noted Miami-based investigator, and was received at Broward Health’s headquarters on Friday, just hours after El Sanadi’s memorial service following his death by suicide. El Sanadi had been president and chief executive of taxpayer-supported Broward Health for 14 months.
Black’s email blasted Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett.
“I can no longer sit quietly while needed evidence and information is being withheld from the corruption squad at the FBI,” Black told Barrett.
Black wrote that Barrett had shut him out of “various investigations” and accused her of wrongfully asserting a claim of legal privilege to block law-enforcement access to a laptop used by an executive suspected of improprieties.
“I was complaining in writing that it may appear you were potentially obstructing justice and that the FBI needed to image and take a look at the suspect’s hard drive, owned by BH [Broward Health],” he said. “I understand that even today, the FBI does not have access to that laptop. This is outrageous and the public deserves better.”
Barrett did not respond to requests for comment by phone and email. Black declined comment because the matter is pending.
Black’s scathing email was sent to Barrett, with copies to members of Broward Health’s board of commissioners. The day it arrived, Florida’s chief inspector general also informed Broward Health that she has opened an inquiry into millions of dollars in contracts that the hospital district has awarded since July 2012.
Broward Health’s board is expected to hold a special meeting next week to discuss the inspector general’s investigation. No date has been set.
Black’s email states that El Sanadi hired him in April 2015 at the direction of David Di Pietro, the board chairman, to investigate “information and allegations of corruption at Broward Health” given to him by El Sanadi.
“I discovered the irregularities in the security RFP [request for proposals] and Nabil put a hold on the RFP process at my request. There was obvious corruption and the matter is still not resolved to this day. I later developed witnesses regarding kickbacks and other crimes and immediately referred the matter to the FBI corruption squad,” Black wrote. “We [myself and FBI agents] promised witnesses that they would not be known unless they testified. We kept that promise and will continue to do so.”
El Sanadi was informed and told Black to keep working.
“Nabil and I met several times at his home or at a local restaurant to discuss my findings as he felt his office was bugged. We used Nabil’s wife’s email to communicate most of the time because we didn’t know who would have access to sensitive emails,” Black said.
Black’s frustrations with Barrett, who was hired last summer, began shortly after her arrival when “one of your outside attorneys demanded that I turn over the names of FBI witnesses in the ongoing federal investigation. I refused, of course.”
I can no longer sit quietly while needed evidence and information is being withheld from the corruption squad at the FBI.
Wayne Black, private investigator
The two “bumped heads” again later, Black wrote. “You had no experience with evidence handling in ongoing criminal investigations and I wrote you about that several times. Rather than turning over potential evidence to me for the FBI, your outside law firm, under some privilege argument, made copies and did their ‘privilege research,’ which I am sure, resulted in huge billings to the taxpayers of Broward County. I then wrote you that long memo about obstructing justice appearances.”
Black and Ryan Stumphauzer, a former Miami federal prosecutor working with him, asked El Sanadi “to simply make a decision on who was doing the corruption investigation internally … us or you and your Tampa law firm” — identified by Broward Health officials as Foley Lardner. “He told me it was Ryan and me but that never materialized, even after I organized an off-site meeting with Nabil and the FBI.’’
The email suggests a possible change of heart by El Sanadi for the corruption investigations he’d initiated.
“What Nabil promised the FBI about evidence turnover at that meeting never happened. For months, I would call Nabil and ask why the FBI still didn’t get the laptop of the suspect — he would say that the attorneys were researching something,” Black wrote.
In the email Black refers to an executive alleged to have drugged one or more employees and then had sex with them.
The investigator wrote: “Recently, much to everyone’s surprise and after the FBI contacted one suspect employee, it was decided that BH would terminate the employee and give him six months severance pay.” Black said a witness who heard about it said, “it must have been hush money.”
The former executive “was bragging about getting $75,000 from BH to pay his criminal defense attorney,” Black wrote to Barrett. “I texted you and you responded you knew nothing about it. This was untrue, according to Nabil. I called him immediately thereafter and he told me that you and HR [human resources] had approved the ‘settlement’ and that there was some confidentiality agreement with the former executive, now suspect.”
Black continued, “The same executive... had sex with female employees in his office at BH, took kickbacks from vendors, created companies to sell goods to BH, had relatives working at BH in violation of policy and was generally uncooperative with internal audit in the past. And there is more from witnesses about which you were not briefed. Imagine what our cooperating witnesses must think.”
Black indicated he’s surprised the FBI has yet to serve subpoenas in the case. “If this were Miami and I was still at the Public Corruption Unit and someone dragged their feet for even days, let alone months, turning over critical evidence … I would long ago [have] served a search warrant. I pray that you will take my advice just this once and immediately give that suspect’s laptop” to the FBI.
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