Ex-MetroHealth COO found guilty of fraud, accepting bribes

A jury convicted the former COO of Cleveland-based MetroHealth System and three other individuals for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud the health system through a series of bribes and kickbacks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the U.S. Department of Justice announced July 30.

Here are six things to know about the case:

1. Edward Hills, DDS, and three co-defendants — all dentists at MetroHealth — were found guilty of criminal charges and are scheduled to be sentenced in November. The four men were indicted for the crimes in October 2016.

2. According to court documents presented by the Justice Department during the trial, Dr. Hills, who served as COO and director of the health system, and two of his co-defendants engaged in a racketeering conspiracy from 2008 through 2016 that involved a series of bribes, witness tampering and other crimes.

3. The Justice Department said Dr. Hills solicited cash, checks and expensive gifts from the two of the co-defendants beginning in 2009, and in return took actions on their behalf allowing them to operate their individual private dental clinics during regular business hours while receiving full-time salaries from MetroHealth.

4. Dr. Hills, who also served as interim president and CEO of MetroHealth from December 2012 through July 2013, allowed the co-defendants and others to hire MetroHealth dental residents to work at their private clinics during regular business hours and did not require them to pay wages or salaries to residents. He allowed the three individuals and others to solicit bribes from prospective dental school residents, which amounted to at least $75,000 between 2008 and 2014.

5. Dr. Hills was also responsible for determining monthly bonuses for MetroHealth dentists who produced receipts totaling more than their monthly salary and benefits. Those dentists typically received a monthly bonus of 25 percent, but Dr. Hills upwardly adjusted bonuses by $92,829 for two of the co-defendants and others between 2010 and 2014, the Justice Department said.

6. The Justice Department alleged Dr. Hills and two co-conspirators conspired to obstruct justice once learning of a 2014 federal investigation into their actions by instructing people not to cooperate with law enforcement. Officials also claimed Dr. Hills made false statements on tax returns between 2011 and 2013.

To access the full report, click here.

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