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Health Dept. asks Cuomo to investigate Jamaica, Flushing hospitals

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State Health Department officials said they have asked state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate MediSys Health Network, which runs Jamaica and Flushing hospitals, after the health network was linked to a scandal that involved corrupt Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio pushing the interests of Jamaica Hospital administrators at the state level in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While Cuomo’s office did not comment on whether or not it was investigating MediSys, a state Department of Health spokeswoman confirmed that officials asked the attorney general to look into possible wrongdoings by the health network.

A spokesman for MediSys said the network had no comment.

“We made the referral and as far as what they do with it, it’s up to them,” said DOH spokeswoman Claudia Hutton.

A Manhattan federal judge sentenced Seminerio, of Richmond Hill, to six years in prison in February for abusing his power as a lawmaker and extorting money out of hospitals, nonprofits and other groups in exchange for lobbying state officials on their behalf.

Seminerio pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking more than $300,000 from Jamaica Hospital administrators in exchange for approaching state health officials to promote their interests. Federal prosecutors said the Richmond Hill lawmaker created a sham consulting agency, Marc Consultants, to squeeze $1 million out of Jamaica Hospital, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Plaza College in Jackson Heights, the Long Island Rail Road and other organizations while in office.

The judge said Seminerio accepted money from Jamaica Hospital in exchange for ramming through legislation that favored and secured funding for the medical institution. He also found that Seminerio favored Jamaica Hospital because of the bribe money and advocated against Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills. Parkway officials have contended in a $100 million civil lawsuit that the hospital was forced to close down after it did not pay bribes to Seminerio.

The state health officials’ request follows a lawsuit filed by Margaret Johnson, MediSys’ former general counsel. Her suit, which was filed last month in federal court in Brooklyn, contends the MediSys board directed trustees at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn to fire Johnson after she ended the hospital’s relationship with Victor Rocco, a criminal defense attorney who has represented MediSys when federal investigators were looking into Seminerio’s relationship with the health network.

Johnson said in the suit that she terminated Rocco’s services after he directly spoke with MediSys CEO David Rosen and said she was concerned the “interaction between Defendant Rosen and Attorney Rocco could cause a charge of obstruction of justice” against MediSys.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 6:19 pm, October 10, 2011
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