Penn Medicine hospital leader with checkered past resigns after 1 month on job

Larry Butler Jr., who has a criminal history, began his new role as senior director of facilities at Penn Medicine's Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia on July 17, and resigned less than a month later, on Aug. 14. 

Both pieces of news were announced in all-staff emails from Daniel Wilson, Pennsylvania Hospital's acting CEO, according to a Sept. 21 report from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The email announcing the hiring of Mr. Butler references his experience and educational background. In the email announcing Mr. Butler's resignation, Mr. Wilson writes that the hospital will be "restarting the search for our senior director of facilities effective immediately. Larry Butler has resigned from his position and is no longer with the organization. I will continue to provide coverage and oversight for this role, supporting the leaders in engineering, security, environmental services and food and nutrition." 

Mr. Butler's criminal history came to light last year after Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Ore., fired him as COO.

Mr. Butler was named COO of the hospital in May 2022. He was employed four days before the criminal history was discovered, hospital spokesperson Kim Winker told Becker's at the time. 

"He was immediately terminated upon learning about [his] background," she said.

In August 2015, Mr. Butler was sentenced to five years in federal prison for defrauding two of his former employers, according to the Justice Department.  

Mr. Butler was convicted of wire fraud and false representation of a Social Security number. The Justice Department said he used false credentials, a false Social Security number and other false documentation to defraud Metairie-based Louisiana Health Cooperative and Baton Rouge, La.-based Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. 

He also used company credit cards to pay for personal expenses, according to the Justice Department. 

Philadelphia has a "Ban the Box" law that prohibits inquiries into arrests and convictions on employment applications. The law also stipulates that employers may ask about an applicant's convictions after the first interview and, if necessary and appropriate, conduct a criminal record check after the employer "has determined that the candidate is otherwise qualified for the position."

A Penn Medicine spokesperson told Becker's in a statement that the hospital "has a robust hiring process which includes background checks, reference checks and interviews," and it "complies with all applicable laws related to this process." 

"Though candidates are expected to provide accurate information, these processes can allow for individuals who are not honest about their background to evade findings which may otherwise preclude their hiring." 

Mr. Butler did not have access to any patient information or financial systems during his brief employment at the hospital, the spokesperson added.

Mr. Butler told the the Inquirer earlier in September that his criminal record was not discussed during the hiring process, although he anticipated it might come up and was prepared to address it.

He also told the newspaper he "embellished" parts of his resume, "like a lot of people do," which he said included falsely indicating he worked at the California hospital since 2015. According to the Inquirer, Mr. Butler expressed that he was concerned about how his past would affect his ability to get well-paid management jobs.

"I'm just trying to work. That's all," Mr. Butler told the newspaper, noting he was qualified for the Penn Medicine job, and he's been a model employee since leaving prison in February 2019. "I want to move on."

Penn Medicine did not reveal the names of the vendors it uses for background checks, but an industry expert told the Inquirer that background checks can sometimes fail to identify all of a candidate's history if the employer only checks local criminal records or within a limited timeframe. 

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