Bozeman Health Services board sues search firm for selecting CEO with criminal record

Bozeman (Mont.) Health Services has filed a lawsuit against Kansas City, Mo.-based Gallaher MSA Search for failing to identify felony theft convictions on the record of the hospital's recently fired president and CEO, Kevin Pitzer, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

An investigation by the Bozeman Health Services board in mid-September surfaced information that Mr. Pitzer was convicted in 1983 in federal court of three felony counts of theft for embezzling approximately $100,000 from an Iowa residential and daycare facility where he worked as an administrative assistance and bookkeeper from 1981 to 1983, according to the report. He was 23 years old at the time. Published records at the time say Mr. Pitzer was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and ordered to repay the money he stole. He served 90 days in prison and was on probation for seven years.

Bozeman Health Services' lawsuit claims if Gallaher MSA Search had vetted Mr. Pitzer properly, he would not have been chosen to serve as CEO. The suit accuses Gallaher MSA Search of a breach of contract and negligence, and seeks unspecified damages and attorneys' fees.

The hospital claims Mr. Pitzer lied during the search process by indicating on a questionnaire that he had not been convicted of any felony offenses. He also never disclosed his criminal past to the hospital board of directors, according to the lawsuit.

After being terminated from the hospital, Mr. Pitzer said in a statement he was disappointed with the board's decision. He said he "fully reimbursed" his former employer and took full responsibility for his actions at the time, according to the report. Mr. Pitzer also said he provided Bozeman Health full authorization to perform a background check, contact professional references and do credit reviews.

More articles on legal and regulatory news:
Delaware hospital to pay $4M to settle improper billing case
Massachusetts General Hospital to pay record settlement over drug thefts
LSU sues group that manages Shreveport, Monroe hospitals

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