No Charges Against Second Hospital District Attorney; Mystery Remains About His Firing | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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No Charges Against Second Hospital District Attorney; Mystery Remains About His Firing

Former associate general counsel of Broward Health Joe Truhe will not be charged criminally for practicing law without a license. A closeout memo from the Broward State Attorney's Office dated February 24 made it official. Now the more pressing question: Why was Truhe fired in the first place?

The memo cites a consultation with Lori Holcomb, chief counsel of the Florida Bar's Unlicensed Practice of Law Division:

[S]he advised... that, under the circumstances detailed in this closeout memorandum, she would not have referred the Truhe matter to the Broward SAO for review. Further, Ms. Holcomb does not recall ever referring a case with similar facts to any SAO in Florida.
Probably because there isn't a shred of evidence that Truhe did anything wrong.

To review, Truhe was fired in mid-May in the same board action as the man who hired him, Broward Health General Counsel Marc Goldstone, who was also investigated by prosecutors for practicing without a license and who was also not charged.

The Broward Health commissioners had accused Goldstone of misleading them about how he would become licensed in Florida. He originally thought he could be admitted as "authorized house counsel," a notion that Florida Bar members on staff at Broward Health didn't dispel.

As the closeout memo in Goldstone's case points out, the hospital district had some responsibility for this oversight. And there isn't convincing evidence that Goldstone conspired to conceal his change of plans for getting licensed after he learned he had to sit for the bar exam.

But whether Goldstone did or did not mislead the board had nothing to do with Truhe. As the closeout memo makes clear, Truhe's offer letter stated "you will sit for the Florida Bar exam and apply for admission to the Florida Bar after commencing your employment with Broward Health."

Truhe was ready to take that exam at the next scheduled date, in July. In March 2009, at a meeting of the district's Legal Review Committee, Goldstone told commissioners of this. Yet in May, he was fired along with Goldstone.

Clearly, Truhe did not mislead the commissioners about his route for state licensure. There must have been some other reason for firing him.

Whatever it is, Sam Goren must know. The Fort Lauderdale attorney was a consultant to Goldstone about licensure matters. Then Goren told commissioners that Goldstone had not taken the proper course in getting licensed. And after the board moved to fire Goldstone, it was Goren who was given the powerful, lucrative job of being the hospital district's general counsel. (In the past, Goren has refused to comment on the district's firing of Goldstone and Truhe, who have both sued Broward Health.)

Had Goren and the hospital commissioners been concerned purely with Goldstone's "deception," they would have fired Goldstone and elevated Truhe to that position, at least in the interim.

By firing Truhe in the same action, there's reason to suspect that the true motive of the board was political. Political how? Take your pick. There was a pending ethical case against Commissioner Joseph Cobo. Goldstone and Truhe had cut legal billings to a powerful law firm, and the attorneys had uncovered the district's vulnerability to a federal investigation for fraud.

It's looking more and more likely that Goldstone and Truhe's terminations were related to one if not all of the political matters above. And it looks like it'll be awfully expensive to settle those wrongful termination suits the two attorneys have filed against the district.

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Thomas Francis

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