Plea deal negotiations scheduled in Tulare hospital case, Benzeevi to appeal recusal decision

A plea deal could be on the table for three former Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) executives, nearly three years after they were charged with alleged crimes during the time HCCA managed Tulare Regional Medical Center and the Southern Inyo Hospital in Lone Pine. In a Friday hearing, Trevor Holly with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office went so far as to tell Judge Michael Sheltzer “we were going to make an offer today,” speaking of a “package” that would focus on “seized fund

Judge rules Tulare County DA Tim Ward may stay on HCCA case

The Tulare County District Attorney’s office may continue to prosecute three former Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) executives, a judge ruled earlier this month. Yorai ‘Benny’ Benzeevi, HCCA’s CEO; Alan Germany, HCCA’s former CFO; and Bruce Greene, an attorney with Baker Hostetler who served Benzeevi, HCCA and the Tulare Local Healthcare District, were charged in 2020 with a laundry list of crimes allegedly committed during the time that HCCA managed Tulare Regional Medical Center. T

DA, AG respond to former Tulare hospital leaders' bias allegations

The Tulare County District Attorney’s office has responded to allegations made by Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) CEO Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi that his prosecution is due to political pressure against – and bias by – Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward. The California Attorney General’s office backed up Ward’s office with a separate filing and the overarching response from both entities is: Ward wasn’t friends with Benzeevi, he didn’t file charges against Benzeevi in a bid to secur

Tulare hospital board settles suit against former attorney and law firm

The Tulare Local Healthcare District now has $3 million more in its bank account after settling a lawsuit against Bruce Greene – its former attorney – and the firm he works for, Baker Hostetler. Other parts of the lawsuit, which named former district board members Parmod Kumar, Linda Wilbourn, and Richard Torrez as defendants, have not been settled and remain active in the Kern County Superior Court. The settlement doesn’t impact charges that the Tulare County District Attorney’s office has br

Visalia Medical Clinic to break up with Kaweah Health, eyeing partnership with Adventist Health

Visalia Medical Clinic and Kaweah Health are breaking up – and Visalia Medical Clinic is set to head into the arms of Adventist Health by June 30, 2023, if not before. Kaweah Health and Visalia Medical Clinic (VMC) have been partners since 2015 through a medical foundation now known as Kaweah Health Medical Group. “In early September, we were informed by leaders of Visalia Medical Clinic, our exclusive medical group partner to the Kaweah Health Medical Group, a California 1206(l) medical founda

DA gets more time to respond to hospital leaders' bias claims

After an hour-long hearing in the Tulare County Superior Court’s Juvenile Division, the Tulare County District Attorney’s office earned slightly more time to respond to claims by three former Tulare hospital leaders who say they are being unfairly prosecuted. The trio are specifically seeking the recusal of District Attorney Tim Ward and the entire Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, based on allegations that Ward was friends with the lead defendant before allegedly following shifting pol

Attorneys for former Tulare hospital leaders accuse DA Ward of biased prosecution

The Tulare County District Attorney’s office may be forced to recuse itself from the long and winding cases against three former Tulare hospital leaders if the attorneys’ claims of bias against District Attorney Tim Ward hold up in court. Attorneys representing Dr. Yorai ‘Benny’ Benzeevi, Bruce Greene and Alan Germany filed a motion on Tuesday that, if approved by Tulare County Superior Court Judge Michael Sheltzer, would force the recusal of the District Attorney’s office. The motion alleges

, area news outlets honored in California Journalism Awards

The Valley Voice was recognized with two awards in this year’s California Journalism Awards, which judged the Voice against similarly-sized California News Publishers Association members. Catherine Doe, the Voice’s publisher, received both awards. The Voice’s entries were judged in the digital category for outlets with 100,000 or less monthly unique visitors. Doe received second place in ‘Coverage of Newsom Recall Election’ for the article “Tulare County’s republicans react to recall,” and fif

Bail for former Tulare hospital CEO to be reduced

Dr. Yorai ‘Benny’ Benzeevi is set to have his bail reduced to $1m, a sharp drop from the nearly $4.1m it was set at in 2020, after a tentative ruling on Friday by Tulare County Judge Michael Sheltzer. Benzeevi is facing a long list of charges relating to his time as CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), the company which managed the Tulare Regional Medical Center from 2014 to 2017 and the Southern Inyo Hospital in Lone Pine, Calif. between 2016 and 2017. He could face up to 40 years

Former Tulare hospital CEO to ask for bail reduction

Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi will ask a Tulare County court on March 18 to reduce his $4.1m bail to zero, according to filings written by his attorneys. Separately, officials with the Tulare County District Attorney’s office moved to freeze bank accounts in his name in Israel. In August of 2020, Benzeevi was charged with a litany of crimes relating to actions taken while managing Tulare Regional Medical Center; in December 2020, Benzeevi was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after vol

Milan Institute, KMPH station owner set for Tulare County court battle

The Milan Institute of Cosmetology and television giant Sinclair Broadcasting – which owns four TV stations in Fresno and Bakersfield – are gearing up for a legal battle in the Tulare County Superior Court. Sinclair claims the school owes it money – and Milan claims that Sinclair purposefully smeared its reputation in order to get that money. Sinclair filed its lawsuit in May 2021 over $54,812.84 allegedly owed for advertising. The company owns Fresno’s FOX 26 and CW 59 alongside Bakersfield’s

Attorney disqualified from Tulare Local Healthcare District case; board considering next options

In a potential setback for the Tulare Local Healthcare District, Visalia attorney Mike Lampe was disqualified from representing the district in a Kern County lawsuit against its former law firm, BakerHostetler, its former attorney, Bruce Greene, and some of its past board members. The case was moved to Kern County after Greene and BakerHostetler argued that they would be unable to receive a fair trial in Tulare County. Greene and the firm claim that they will call Lampe as a witness, and that h

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
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