By Michael E. Miller
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By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
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By Chris Joseph
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HIP Health Plan of Florida is a nonprofit health-maintenance organization that relies largely on tax dollars and has hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts in Broward County alone. It might be assumed that employees of such a company would be staid and frugal, but that's not the picture painted in a lawsuit filed by an ex-girlfriend of one of the company's top executives.
Family members, friends, and the attorney for Carol Anne Golin say the 41-year-old divorcée was swept up in a high-living world of limousines, lavish parties, expensive trips to New York, and skybox views of professional sporting events when she began dating the company's vice president and chief of staff, James Greenidge.
The relationship came to a violent end after a night of partying when Greenidge, 53 years old and married, allegedly beat her after a bizarre sexual tryst that included Greenidge's male chauffeur, according to court records.
Golin's attorney, Michael Milchman of Fort Lauderdale, further claims in the lawsuit that Greenidge's apartment, which is located next door to the company's suite of offices in Hollywood, was leased "for use by defendant Greenidge and his superiors, co-executives and cohorts at HIP Health for the purposes of engaging in sexual activities including illegal, deviant and violent sexual and assaultive conduct, which HIP facilitated."
HIP's spokesman, Ron Maiorana, strongly denies that Watson or any HIP executive other than Greenidge had anything to do with sexual activities at the apartment. And there is no proof that any other executive engaged in "violent sexual and assaultive conduct," Milchman concedes. Milchman says the complaint was based solely on Golin's "recollections of what happened in the apartment, not only with her, but with other [executives]," but he hasn't confirmed the veracity of those statements. Golin has been advised by Milchman not to discuss the suit publicly and didn't return numerous phone messages left at her home by New Times.
"This has nothing to do with HIP," says Maiorana, who is based in New York, where the company was founded. "This has to do with an individual that happens to work with HIP. These people can say anything. What they are looking for, it seems to me, is a payday of some kind."
Defending Greenidge in the lawsuit is W. George Allen, a pioneering black Fort Lauderdale attorney who also serves as an HIP executive and is one of the many lobbyists who helped the company get half of a $210 million heath insurance contract with the School Board of Broward County. Numerous attempts to contact Greenidge, a long-time HIP executive, were unsuccessful.
Regardless of what happened in the apartment, the story of the pair's romance indicates that Greenidge lives a lavish lifestyle as an executive of the HMO, which, in addition to the school board, has contracts with the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Broward County Commission and is partly funded with federal Medicaid dollars.
Greenidge, for instance, never drives himself anywhere instead always relying on a limousine service or taxi. Allen confirmed this was true, but added that Greenidge pays for the services himself. Golin's friends and ex-husband also recounted a trip in which Golin was wined and dined in New York, where HIP's national headquarters are located. And the couple attended numerous HIP parties in South Florida, many of them in stadium skyboxes at local sporting events. Golin's former roommate, Jeff Ellyson, says they routinely partied in a box at Miami Heat basketball games.
"Florida is the designated party place for the HIP people from New York," says Neil Golin, the plaintiff's ex-husband, who has remained close with Carol Anne Golin and shares custody of their 12-year-old daughter with her. "It's their playground . I don't know who paid for all these things."
Maiorana says the company does keep skyboxes in various stadiums in South Florida for "marketing purposes," but he said he had no knowledge of the trip to New York or other parties.
Allegations of the highlife at HIP are nothing new. In New York, where the company has 800,000 members, an ongoing series of Daily News articles has uncovered lavish perks for HIP's executives, including high salaries and more than $1 million spent in one year on corporate credit cards for restaurant bills, travel, car leases, and corporate parties (including one $150,000 bash at a Manhattan hotel and a $200,000 trip to Puerto Rico). Anthony Watson, the company's chief executive, makes $1 million a year and was supplied with a Jaguar, the Daily News found. The revelations prompted state investigators to subpoena HIP's spending records in March.
Watson was named in Golin's lawsuit, and attorney Milchman says Golin partied with the CEO. But a judge, at the behest of attorney Allen, recently struck that from the record. Allen insists that Watson never met Golin.
In Broward County the company has never been shy about playing big-money politics. It's contributed tens of thousands of dollars to political campaigns and hired numerous power brokers for various reasons, including influential political pollster and lobbyist Jim Kane and Fort Lauderdale commissioner Carlton Moore, who is an officer of a company that subcontracts with HIP.
HIP has snapped up hundreds of millions of dollars in public contracts. But they haven't come without controversy. The Justice Department is examining the relationship between HIP lobbyists and Walter Browne, an oft-investigated union leader who sits on the school board's insurance committee.