Former Hospital CEO's Plea Agreement
Dr. Yorai 'Benny' Benzeevi, the former CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), has entered a no contest plea to several charges related to his tenure at the organization. The charges filed in 2020 encompass six felony counts of conflict of interest and two misdemeanor counts of failing to disclose campaign expenditures timely and using an official position for personal gain.
As part of the plea agreement, Dr. Benzeevi is obligated to pay $2.4 million in restitution to the Tulare Local Healthcare District. The settlement also stipulates 120 days of house detention, community service, and probation. The charges stem from Dr. Benzeevi's management of Tulare Regional Medical Center, which he took over a decade ago via HCCA. The hospital subsequently filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors in 2017 following the ousting of Dr. Benzeevi and HCCA. The Tulare Local Healthcare District then entered into a management agreement with Adventist Health.
Charges and Legal Proceedings
Dr. Benzeevi's case is considered the largest public corruption trial in Tulare County history. The charges against him include embezzlement, conspiracy, money laundering, grand theft, and campaign finance violations. If convicted, Dr. Benzeevi faced a potential 40-year prison term and up to $20 million in restitution to the hospital district. The dispute between Dr. Benzeevi and the District Attorney's office over frozen bank accounts and conflicts of interest has been ongoing.
Initially, Dr. Benzeevi was charged with 40 felony counts and six misdemeanor counts. However, he only pleaded to six felonies and two misdemeanors. With the current plea agreement, he is now facing a maximum of five years and four months in prison. In addition to the $2.4 million restitution, he is required to pay $2 million to Tulare and $400,000 to Southern Inyo.
Other Parties Involved
Other individuals associated with this case include Alan Germany, the acting CFO of Tulare Regional and Inyo Hospital, and Bruce Greene, HCCA's attorney. Mr. Germany has entered into a plea deal, while Mr. Greene's firm has reached a $3 million civil settlement with the hospital district. Mr. Greene is due back in court in May.
Dr. Benzeevi's sentencing hearing is set for July 19, 2024, and he is required to appear in person. The community, prosecution, and defense have given their statements and reactions regarding the plea agreement and the potential consequences for Dr. Benzeevi and the healthcare district.