- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former health secretary was charged Tuesday by a state grand jury with lying about his involvement in the award of a now-canceled $200 million Medicaid contract.

Bruce Greenstein was indicted on nine counts of perjury, tied to his sworn testimony during a confirmation hearing before a state Senate committee and to the grand jury reviewing the contract and the decision-making behind it.

The indictment comes more than a year and a half after the Jindal administration scrapped the 10-year Medicaid claims processing contract with Maryland-based Client Network Services Inc., or CNSI.

Since the contract cancellation, the administration has accused Greenstein, a former CNSI vice president, of inappropriate contact with the company throughout the bid process.

Greenstein resigned a week after the contract was terminated but has denied any effort to steer the contract to his former employer. His lawyer John McLindon said Greenstein didn’t lie in his testimony and will plead not guilty to the charges.

“Obviously, he’s very disappointed, but he is prepared to take this on, go to trial, explain everything to the jury and show them that what he said is not perjury,” McLindon said.

The Jindal administration severed its contract with CNSI in March 2013 after details emerged publicly about a federal subpoena seeking information about the contract award. Greenstein then stepped down as secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals and moved back to Seattle, where he once lived.

The Division of Administration said it terminated the contract because Greenstein exchanged hundreds of phone calls and thousands of text messages with CNSI during the bid process, creating an unfair advantage for the firm. Greenstein was vice president of CNSI from 2005 to 2006.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office empaneled its own grand jury two months after the contract was canceled to look into possible criminal activity, and Tuesday’s indictment stemmed from its 16-month review.

Jindal’s executive counsel Thomas Enright didn’t directly comment on Greenstein’s indictment, but released a statement.

“We have zero-tolerance for any wrongdoing, which is why we immediately acted to terminate the contract when we learned from the AG that improper behavior might have occurred, and it is why we asked the Inspector General to conduct an independent investigation,” Enright said.

CNSI has sued the state for wrongful termination, saying it did nothing inappropriate to win the contract. Company officials said the communication between Greenstein and CNSI employees was largely of a personal nature because of friendships he maintained after he left the firm.

The contract sparked controversy as soon as CNSI was chosen three years ago. State lawmakers at the time questioned Greenstein’s involvement.

Greenstein acknowledged under questioning from lawmakers in a 2011 confirmation hearing that a decision he made in the bid solicitation process made CNSI eligible for the contract. He also met with a top CNSI official within days of taking the health secretary’s job.

But the Jindal administration still proceeded with the deal until the federal subpoena became public.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide