Five leaders of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health facing criminal charges filed a motion Dec. 19, arguing the indictment against them should be dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct and grand jury abuse.
Here are five things to know about the criminal case.
1. The Broward County State Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint Dec. 12 against five officials from North Broward Health District, which runs Broward Health, for allegedly violating Florida’s open-meetings laws to bring about the termination of the health system’s former interim CEO, Pauline Grant.
2. The defendants — Broward Health Interim President and CEO Beverly Capasso, General Counsel Lynn Barrett, board chairman Rocky Rodriguez, board member Christopher T. Ure and former board member Linda Robison — are accused of holding private meetings at which they decided to oust Ms. Grant. All five were charged with conspiracy to violate the state’s public-meetings law, called the Sunshine Law. Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Ure and Ms. Robison were also each charged with two counts of violating the public-meetings law, and Ms. Barrett was charged with solicitation to violate the public-meetings law.
3. In a motion filed Dec. 19, the defendants allege prosecutors committed grand jury abuse by refusing to subpoena critical witnesses who could have exonerated them or cast doubt on the credibility of their accusers.
4. The defendants further allege prosecutors used the criminal proceedings as leverage in a corresponding civil casebetween Broward Health and Ms. Grant. “After the breakdown of settlement discussion in the civil case between NBHD and Pauline Grant, the prosecutor accelerated the grand jury process,” states the defendants’ motion to dismiss. “Upon information and belief, it has been communicated that a criminal investigation would not have been pursued if the civil matter had been settled. It is totally improper for the state to use criminal proceedings as a means of pressuring parties to settle a civil lawsuit.”
5. Under Florida law, the court is required to review the grand jury transcripts when defendants claim these types of due process principles have been compromised. If a review of the transcripts confirms the allegations of misconduct, the indictment should be dismissed, according to the motion.