Hospital CEO's ouster was 'totally orchestrated,' former official says

Broward Health officials are accused of violating the state's open meetings law

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - A former board member with Broward Health said Wednesday that it was “absolutely clear” that a group board members conspired in secret last year to oust then-CEO Pauline Grant.

The board held a public vote to fire Grant in December of 2016, but state prosecutors say her fate had already been decided behind closed doors. 

Cobo was in the audience during the meeting in December 2016 and testified before a grand jury that investigated the charges. 

“You had to be a total moron not to see that this was totally orchestrated and decided before they got in there,” Joe Cobo who previously served on the North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners. 

The Broward State Attorney's Office announced this week that Broward Health chairman Rocky Rodriguez, interim president and CEO Beverly Capasso, general counsel Lynn Barrett, board member Christopher Ure and former board member Linda Robison had been indicted on charges of conspiracy and violating the state's Sunshine Law.

Prosecutors said Broward Health officials flouted the state’s open meetings law to pre-arrange the firing of Grant and install Capasso in her place.

In statement, the hospital system defended the indicted officials, saying the prosecution was “misguided.”

The officials are charged with second-degree misdemeanors. Now it's up to Gov. Rick Scott to decide whether to remove them from office while they face criminal charges. 

“These people need to be suspended immediately,” Cobo said.

The governor’s office said Scott is reviewing the matter.

As part of his role as governor, Scott appointed the charged officials. He is also known to have a close relationship with Barrett, the general counsel who is accused of having served as a conduit for some of the secret discussions. 

“It's time to be transparent, Cobo said. “It's time to do the right thing by the citizens of Broward County.”

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