Judge rejects attempt to toss out charges in Benzeevi case

Dr. Benny Benzeevi and his former colleagues, Alan Germany and Bruce Greene, are set to be arraigned on January 12 after Judge Michael Sheltzer denied filings to have the charges against them thrown out. Demurrer moved at snail’s pace way through court The ruling came more than a year after attorneys for the three lodged the filings, known as demurrers. During that time, the case has moved between four different judges at the Tulare County Superior Court, landing in Sheltzer’s lap this year.

Men file discrimination suit over women-only karaoke night

Two men turned away from a women-only karaoke night at the Visalia Wyndham in August have filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. Steve Frye and George St. George filed suit last month, and have made headlines for filing similar suits around the state. Katie Parker — a Visalia resident — and her company Girrlfriends Events, as well as the Visalia Wyndham, are the latest defendants in a series of lawsuits, including a recent suit in San Luis Obispo and other lawsuits in Southern California.

Judge denies Benzeevi request to lift asset freeze

Dr. Yorai ‘Benny’ Benzeevi’s assets will stay frozen after Tulare County Judge Michael Sheltzer denied a motion that would have allowed Benzeevi to access money in his bank accounts or keep any future income. Benzeevi’s bank accounts were ordered frozen in August 2020 when the Tulare County District Attorney’s office filed charges alleging he committed embezzlement, grand theft, and other crimes managing the Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Southern Inyo Hospital through the company he he

Attorneys for man arrested in online sex sting claim it was homophobic

Attorneys for a man arrested in an internet sex sting last October have claimed that the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office discriminated against gay men by making underage male decoys older than female ones and placing male decoys exclusively on gay dating apps. Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux vehemently denies the allegations and stated that each person arrested was aware they were contacting a minor. David Safrazian, a 25-year-old student, was arrested after driving to a Visalia hotel to a

Former HCCA official pleads not guilty via Zoom at arraignment hearing

Alan Germany, a former Tulare hospital executive, pleaded not guilty to an array of charges in an arraignment hearing on Wednesday. Judge Jennifer Shirk presided over the hearing held at the Tulare County Superior Court. For three counts, Germany’s attorney Kevin Rooney filed a demurrer with the court, stating that the allegations — all centering around an allegedly illegal financial interest in Healthcare Conglomerate Associates’ dealings and contracts with the Tulare Local Healthcare District

DA files criminal charges against former Tulare hospital officials

This article has been updated to accurately reflect the jail time the three men could face. Jail time could be on the horizon for three men accused of plundering the Tulare Local Healthcare District and its hospital, the Tulare Regional Medical Center, with the three facing a combined 46 charges. The full complaint is available to read below. Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA); Alan Germany, the company’s former CFO; and Bruce Greene, a BakerHostetler attorney

Visalia parents launch recall effort against Visalia Unified board president

A recall effort against John Crabtree, President of the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) board, has begun. Crabtree represents Area 4 of the district, and his term would naturally be due to end in 2022. Area 4 encompasses a large swath of northwest Visalia, including Goshen. Crabtree, first elected to the board in 2013, is under fire from a group of citizens who claim that he has been part of multiple decisions detrimonious to the district, its students, and parents. The recall proponents

Visalia Unified board discusses equity policies, anti-racism resolution

The Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) board held a special meeting Tuesday night centering around equity, inclusivity and combating racism in the district. The agenda held only two items: the first, a report on inclusivity in the district, showed board members the efforts that district staff have made — and have yet to make — in facing multiple issues identified by Visalia Unified students and staff, and action items and goals identified through the process. The second, a “Resolution to U

Public and students speak out at Visalia Unified board meeting

Board members received an earful at a special Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) board meeting on Tuesday night. The meeting was held to discuss two items, both of which related to the concerns of student protesters, and both of which were presented by Brandon Gridiron, the district’s Administrator for Equity and Student Services. The first item, a report on inclusivity in the district, expounded on efforts the district has made to reach out to multiple constituencies on how the district c

UPDATE: Tulare hospital board to consider filing bar complaint against former attorney

The Tulare Local Healthcare District will vote Wednesday on whether to send a complaint against its former attorney, Bruce Greene, to the State Bar of California. Greene is a Los Angeles-based partner at the firm Baker Hostetler. He and the Baker firm simultaneously represented the district and Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA); HCCA previously managed the district’s hospital, the Tulare Regional Medical Center. The Baker firm and attorneys under its employ also, for most of the same pe

Suit against former Tulare hospital board members, attorney, moved to Kern County

A lawsuit against past members of the Tulare Local Healthcare District board and the district’s former legal counsel has a trial date, nearly two years after the suit was filed. Documents in the case additionally reveal that the Tulare County District Attorney’s office served a warrant on the district seeking documents related to its former counsel in January 2020. The case, filed in Tulare County on April 4, 2019, is set to ultimately be heard by a Kern County jury on March 8, 2021, after multiple defendants in the case stated they didn’t believe an impartial jury could be found in Tulare County.

HCCA successfully moves to disqualify Southern Inyo bankruptcy attorney

The Southern Inyo Healthcare District needs a new bankruptcy attorney — and law firm — by May 10, after attorneys for Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) successfully moved to disqualify the district’s current counsel. Judge Frederick E. Clement ruled on April 10 that Ashley McDow and the law firm Foley & Lardner, which she works for, would be disqualified in the district’s bankruptcy case after HCCA argued that her prior work on HCCA matters represented a conflict of interest.

Controversy erupts over Tulare City Council vote

Was the Tulare City Council’s recent vote to extend a $9m line of credit to the Tulare Local Healthcare District legal? Mario Zamora, Tulare’s interim city attorney, says yes. Marguerite Melo, an attorney who has previously taken on the City of Tulare, says no. Tulare City Councilman Carlton Jones says his colleagues on the city council broke the law, and has posted on Facebook encouraging community members to file complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) which

Tulare moves forward with $9m line of credit to hospital district

The City of Tulare will extend a $9m line of credit to the Tulare Local Healthcare District, after a special Tulare City Council meeting on Tuesday night. Mayor Jose Sigala and council member Terry Sayre voted to extend the line of credit to the hospital, with Vice-Mayor Dennis Mederos abstaining. Council member Greg Nunley recused himself from the vote, due to a pending transaction with the district, while council member Carlton Jones did not attend the meeting. At the same meeting, it was a

Benzeevi trial continues, with hearing dates set for next week

It’s been a walk down memory lane over the past two days in a hearing meant to decide the status of Dr. Benny Benzeevi’s seized assets. Through two separate warrants, the Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) CEO had $937,000 and various personal items including phones, tablets, laptops, and business documents seized by the Tulare County District Attorney’s office. Benzeevi, whose company previously managed Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC), is fighting to have his seized cash returned

Benzeevi hearing delayed until Monday

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the first day of proceedings in the case was Tuesday, not Monday. One subpoena — served once Tuesday, revised and re-served Wednesday — derailed hearings that would have revealed the Tulare County District Attorney’s rationale for seizing funds from Healthcare Conglomerate Associates CEO Dr. Benny Benzeevi. Both sides will now meet next Monday in Judge John Bianco’s courtroom at 8:30am. The subpoena was served upon Kevin Northcraft, t

Latest legal tug of war emerges between HCCA, Southern Inyo

A new round of legal salvos have been unleashed in the bankruptcy case of the Southern Inyo Healthcare District — both from Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), the district’s former management partner, and the district itself. HCCA has claimed that the Southern Inyo district’s bankruptcy attorney, who previously represented both HCCA and the district, has an irreparable conflict of interest and should be removed from the case. The company has also hired legal malpractice counsel to purs
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