Broward News

Did Sam Goren Play Iago's Role in Broward Health Drama?

Since May, Sam Goren has been the acting general counsel of the North Broward Hospital District, a position that allows him to dole out millions of dollars in legal work and makes him one of the county's most powerful attorneys.

But the manner in which Goren landed that job keeps getting murkier and murkier. The most recent cause for discomfort comes from within a lawsuit filed by the man Goren replaced, Marc Goldstone. Hospital district commissioners fired Goldstone in mid-May, in part based on their consultation with Goren. Commissioners claimed that Goldstone -- who moved here from Tennessee -- had misled them about the manner in which he was going to become licensed to practice law in Florida. Can you guess what licensed Florida attorney was advising Goldstone as to how he should gain admission to the Florida Bar?

From Goldstone's lawsuit:

[A]cting on advice of one of NBHD's outside counsels, Samuel G. Goren, Esquire, (Goldstone) did not hold himself out as a Florida attorney, appear in court or sign legal proceedings on behalf of NBHD.
How about that! Why, that makes Goren the best advisor since Iago helped Othello.

Goren didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment on Goldstone's claim. In the past, he's cited a pending criminal investigation by the Broward State Attorney's Office as the reason he couldn't answer questions.

But it's a safe bet that he'd either deny having this role or that he'd say Goldstone ignored his advice. It hardly matters. Even if Goren didn't offer any advice to Goldstone, his role in helping commissioners investigate Goldstone's bar status makes it totally inappropriate for him to be then hired as Goldstone's replacement, even if you believe the fairly ludicrous claim he made at that emergency commission meeting -- that he "didn't come here looking for a job."

And that's not even his only ethical snag. Last December, Goren told a corruption investigator he couldn't give his full cooperation because he had conflicts of interest with the hospital district. Want more conflicting interests? How about Goren's providing free legal work to a nonprofit agency led by one of the district's commissioners?

The district's associate general counsel, Joe Truhe, who was fired along with Goldstone, has filed a bar complaint against Goren and named the attorney as a defendant in his federal suit, which was also filed Tuesday.

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Thomas Francis