Marty Schladen’s El Paso Times’ report on August 31, 2015, states that Mary Lou Camarena, the vice chair of the Board of Directors for the El Paso Children’s Hospital, testified in the bankruptcy case that there had been discussions between UMC and Children’s that the rent payments were rent that “wasn’t really rent.” The rent she is referring to is the $860,000 a month that UMC alleges that children’s owes them for “rent” on the building that the taxpayers already paid for.
Schladen further quoted Camarena as stating that the “rent” payments were “really to facilitate (an intergovernmental) transfer.”
Schladen also quoted Jill Vogel, the children’s hospital’s first lawyer, as testifying that “UMC could put up money for federal health grants known as intergovernmental transfers.” According to Vogel, the “idea was to use Children’s Hospital’s rent payment for the local match,” adding that “federal rules prohibit such an explicit quid pro quo, so the deal wasn’t put in writing.”
Ashley Rodriguez reported on KVIA on August 31, 2015 that the testimony in the court hearing revealed that UMC is “overcharging” the rent in order “to qualify for indigent care.” According to Rodriguez, Mary Lou Camarena stated, in the hearing, that the rent was inflated “because the higher the rent, the more funding the hospital could qualify for.”
After reading those two news reports, quoting the court testimony, consider the following.
Bob Jones is currently in jail for, among other things, misrepresenting facts to the federal government to receive federal funds.
How is what he plead guilty to any different from what two children’s hospital officials have stated in their testimony? Both have stated that rent is not rent, but rather a way for UMC to get federal funds. To receive federal funds, the request has to be accompanied with documentation showing that the federal funds are being used as federally mandated. Bob Jones lied to the federal government about how many disabled individuals he employed.
If UMC, is in fact, charging rent for a building paid for by the taxpayers for the purpose of having a children’s hospital, just so that it can draw down federal funds, how is that any different from what Bob Jones did?
Vogel, a lawyer, is quoted as stating that “federal rules prohibit” a “quid pro quo” such as what was testified in court.
Assuming both news reports are accurate reporting then there are only two possible outcomes to the testimony. The first is that both Camarena and Vogel lied while testifying in court and thus committed a crime. On the other hand, the second option is that UMC committed fraud to take more federal monies.
Either way, a crime has been committed.
However, don’t hold your breath, because El Paso is a “wink, wink” kind of city where crimes are exposed in court hearings and no one bothers to investigate them. Well, that is if you are part of the protected class. Those outside of the protected class or no longer useful to the protected class, like Bob Jones, are jailed for doing the exact same thing the protected class does with your money.