NYT Article »
By BENJAMIN WEISER
Published: September 12, 2011
A former hospital chief executive was convicted on Monday in a far-reaching scheme to pay bribes to three New York State legislators in return for beneficial treatment toward his health care organization.
The trial of the former executive, David P. Rosen, 63, was the first to result from federal charges announced in March against eight defendants, casting light on the pervasive issue of corruption in Albany and the frequently cozy relationship between lawmakers and hospitals.
“This is a sad, even tragic case,” the judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, wrote in a 40-page decision, “as it reveals how a widely admired hospital administrator who diligently sought to better the health care of impoverished communities nonetheless chose to entangle himself in the bribing of state legislators.”
Mr. Rosen had asked for a speedy trial, putting pressure on federal prosecutors to build and argue their case in a far more compressed time frame than normal. The guilty verdict, however, illustrated the strength of the government’s evidence against him, and suggested that its case against his codefendants — who include two state lawmakers — may be equally as strong.
At his trial this summer, prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Rosen had funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to two Democratic assemblymen, William F. Boyland Jr. of Brooklyn and Anthony S. Seminerio of Queens, through sham consulting contracts.
Mr. Rosen had also directed a lucrative contract to a hospice care company in a deal in which a third official, Senator Carl Kruger, a Democrat of Brooklyn, “got a cut” prosecutors said. Mr. Boyland and Mr. Kruger have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial; Mr. Seminerio, who had pleaded guilty to fraud in an earlier case, died in prison in January.
Judge Rakoff noted in his ruling that his findings and conclusions in the Rosen case were “in no way binding on the remaining defendants.” They include a prominent lobbyist, Richard J. Lipsky, a real estate developer, another hospital executive and a health care consultant; all have also pleaded not guilty, and are scheduled for trial in coming months.
A legal expert, Daniel C. Richman, a former prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Columbia, said the ruling will likely “be read by the defendants as testimony to the strength of the government’s case” and “might well spur some defendants to rethink going to trial.”
But Marc L. Mukasey, another former prosecutor who is now in private practice and has represented defendants in corruption cases, said the result of prior trials “might not have as much influence as you might think,” because political defendants have public reputations that could be irreparably damaged by a guilty plea.
Mr. Boyland is scheduled to be tried next, before Judge Rakoff, on Nov. 1. His lawyer, Richard H. Rosenberg, called the verdict disappointing, but added: “It’s not going to affect our decision. We’re going to trial.” Mr. Kruger’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he was disappointed by the verdict but remained “confident that a jury will conclude that Mr. Kruger did not act with any corrupt motive or intent.”
In return for Mr. Rosen’s scheme, prosecutors charged that the three state officials had showered Mr. Rosen’s organization, MediSys Health Network, with state money and lobbied the government on his behalf. MediSys is a nonprofit sponsor of three hospitals as well as nursing homes and neighborhood health centers in Brooklyn and Queens. MediSys fired Mr. Rosen shortly after his indictment.
“If there were any doubt about the pervasive nature of public corruption in Albany, today’s multicount conviction of David Rosen should put it to rest once and for all,” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said. “While this verdict is a very sad commentary on the state of affairs in Albany, it also should send a clear message that we will pursue those who violate the public trust.”
Mr. Rosen agreed to be tried alone and before Judge Rakoff rather than by a jury. Prosecutors said he faced a maximum of 70 years in prison, although under advisory sentencing guidelines he is likely to face far less.
His lead defense lawyer, Robert G. Morvillo, said: “After 40 years of diligent service to the health care community, David Rosen is devastated by the court’s findings. He consistently strived to ensure access to quality health care to the challenged communities in Queens and Brooklyn.”
“We are exploring Mr. Rosen’s available remedies,” Mr. Morvillo added.
Prosecutors charged that through the bogus deals, Mr. Rosen had MediSys pay Mr. Seminerio about $400,000 over the course of 10 years and Mr. Boyland more than $175,000 between 2003 and 2008. “David Rosen set out to buy himself premium access, premium influence with the state government on which his hospitals so critically depended for money, for growth, for staying power,” a prosecutor, Michael S. Bosworth, told the judge in his summation.
Mr. Morvillo had argued in court that his client did not have the need or motive to bribe anyone. “David Rosen had access to whoever he wanted to in Albany,” Mr. Morvillo said.