News and Press Releases

FORMER MEMORIAL REGIONAL HOSPITAL FACILITIES EMPLOYEES SENTENCED FOR ACCEPTING BRIBES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announce the sentencing of defendants Elliot Gordon, 67, and Anthony Merola, 45, both residents of Lake Worth, Florida. On February 4, 2011, Gordon and Merola pled guilty to a one count Criminal Information charging them with conspiring to obtain a bribe as an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra sentenced Gordon to 38 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution to Memorial Regional Hospital (Memorial Regional) in the amount of $597,676. Merola was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution to Memorial Regional in the amount of $625,487. Both defendants will self surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by September 30, 2011.

On December 6, 2010, a Criminal Information was filed charging Gordon and Merola with conspiring to obtain a bribe as an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. On February 4, 2011, both defendants pled guilty to the charge. As part of their plea agreement, the defendants agreed to cooperate with the IRS Civil Examination Division in determining if any additional taxes are due and owing.

According to the Information and statements made in court during the plea hearing, Gordon and Merola were Team Leaders in the Facilities Management Department at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Gordon was a Team Leader in the Facilities Management Department at Memorial Regional from February 1995 until September 2007. Merola was a Team Leader in the same department from September 1997 until February 25, 2009. As Team Leaders, the defendants were responsible for, among other things, contracting with vendors for the purchase of goods and services for Memorial Regional.

According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the plea hearing, Gordon and Merola accepted money and in-kind kickbacks in exchange for selecting certain vendors to perform maintenance work at Memorial Regional. The defendants would cause the selected vendors to substantially inflate their invoices to Memorial Regional to facilitate the payment of kickbacks to themselves. In addition, the defendants, with the assistance of their accountant, would conceal the kickback payments through entities such as Whitehead Industries, RSM&F Enterprises, Inc. and Dorece Consulting, and would improperly deduct personal expenses as business deductions on tax returns filed with the IRS.

On June 15, 2011, charges were brought against nine additional defendants for their involvement in this bribery scheme (U.S. v. Gordon, Case No. 60318-KAM).

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the management and security personnel at Memorial Healthcare System for their assistance and cooperation in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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