Whistle-blower: Former Broward CEO concealed major losses tied to 25-year cancer care contract

A recently unsealed lawsuit accuses Fort Myers, Fla.-based 21st Century Oncology of paying kickbacks to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health's former CEO in exchange for help in securing a 25-year contract that was extremely lucrative for the cancer care provider, according to the News-Press.

David DiPietro, former chairman of Broward Health's board of commissioners, filed the lawsuit under the whistle-blower provision of the False Claims Act. He alleges 21st Century Oncology offered Broward's former CEO, Frank Nask, financial security and political protection. Mr. Nask retired in 2015.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, previously disclosed business ties to 21st Century Oncology and has received political contributions from the company. The lawsuit alleges William "Billy" Rubin, a lobbyist for the oncology company and "close personal friend" of the governor, offered Broward's former CEO kickbacks and helped close the deal.

"Rubin promised Nask that [the governor's] appointments to the Broward Health board would protect Nask's continuing employment salary and pension as CEO," the lawsuit states. "Rubin also communicated the message to Nask that if he did not support the contract with 21st Century, then the appointments to the board would not be his allies and his employment would be terminated."

To get the board to sign off on the deal with 21st Century Oncology, Mr. DiPietro claims Mr. Nask hid the financial implications of the transaction. Broward Health has lost $30 million due to the deal, according to the lawsuit.

"21st Century has orchestrated a scheme of illegal kickbacks to control referrals of cancer patients for radiation oncology services at [Broward Health], one of the largest public healthcare systems in the United States," the 53-page lawsuit states.

21st Century Oncology, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Broward Health told the News-Press the system has cooperated with the government in its investigation and is pleased the government declined to intervene in the lawsuit.

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