Jurors in Alvarado, Tenet Case Say They Are Deadlocked; Motion To Dismiss Denied
Jurors in a case against an Alvarado Hospital Medical Center administrator and Tenet HealthSystem Hospitals, a Tenet Healthcare subsidiary, on Monday indicated that deliberations had deadlocked, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 2/15).
In July 2003, a federal grand jury issued a 17-count criminal indictment of former Alvarado Administrator Mina Nazaryan, Alvarado CEO Barry Weinbaum and Tenet HealthSystem Hospitals. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butcher in his opening statement last October said that Weinbaum, who joined Alvarado in 1991, spent $15 million on 99 physician-relocation agreements that included excessive salaries and overhead compensation. Weinbaum hired Nazaryan in 1995 to expand physician recruitment efforts, Butcher said.
Nazaryan in January pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in the case, admitting that she conspired with Weinbaum to pay physicians for patient referrals. Nazaryan did not admit that she accepted kickbacks from physicians with whom she worked. In exchange for her plea, prosecutors agreed to drop other charges against Nazaryan, which included bribery and witness tampering, although she still faces tax-evasion charges (California Healthline, 1/28).
Jurors on Monday sent a note to U.S. District Judge James Lorenz asking if they could find Tenet and Alvarado not guilty if they voted to convict Weinbaum.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Lorenz had "just completed" his response to that note when he received a second note from the jurors stating, "The jury cannot arrive at a verdict for guilty or not guilty on any counts." The note continued, "There are members who are resolute for guilty and members who are resolute for not guilty and no room for change."
Lorenz said he would direct jurors to resume deliberations. After receiving the jurors' notes, Lorenz denied Alvarado's motion to dismiss the charges (Skidmore, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/15).
Tenet spokesperson Kent Jarrell declined to comment, according to Bloomberg/Times (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 2/15).