Aquino indictment clouds revival effort

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An advocate for reopening Parkway Hospital is retooling his public campaign after Robert Aquino, the former CEO of the shuttered medical facility, was charged Friday with bribing a Brooklyn state senator in order to receive favorable treatment.

John Krall has been pitching his plan to reopen Parkway Hospital for the last several weeks. He has appeared at community board and civic association meetings in the neighborhood, claiming he has $70 million in private capital to reopen the now-defunct hospital.

Krall has said on several occasions that he and Aquino have been longtime friends and that Aquino was to be the landlord of the new hospital should it open. But he was shocked when he heard the charges.

“I’ve been blindsided by this as much as anyone,” said Krall, currently the CEO of a medical information technology firm. “But I’m not going to hide from anybody. I’ve been trying to do the right thing. This shouldn’t affect the outcome of this process in my mind.”

Aquino allegedly paid $60,000 to Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) through a third party in an agreement under which Kruger would help keep the financially struggling hospital afloat by helping Aquino acquire two Caritas hospitals — Mary Immaculate and St. John’s — according to federal investigators.

But in light of the indictment, Krall said he would rather see Aquino sell the building to put some distance between the investigation and Krall’s hopes of reopening the shuttered hospital, which would be renamed Gloria D’Amico Hospital after the late Queens County clerk. “I could put 1,000 jobs into your community in four months,” Krall said. “We want a hospital and we want to provide health-care services.”

If the new hospital were to open, Krall said he would serve as chief information officer.

But there are several obstacles standing in the way, and according to Krall it is elected officials like state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), whom Krall accuses of not pushing hard enough in the state Legislature to help him open the facility.

“It sounds like all these politicians have their own agenda,” he said. “They’re not pushing for this. I don’t know what the downside is, but they’re not.”

Krall has often mentioned the private investors that would provide the capital. But at a March 9 Community Board 6 meeting, when he was questioned by Lynn Schulman, the senior executive director for a medical center in Brooklyn and a CB 6 board member, he did not want to reveal any specific information.

“He just came out of the blue,” Schulman said. “You can’t just come and open a hospital.”

Schulman also questioned Krall about whether he contacted the city Department of Health to obtain a certificate of need. The certificate would determine whether a hospital would work in a certain location, Schulman said.

Krall later revealed that a corporation called Commercial Plus will be providing a large amount of the capital.

But even after the charges were aired Friday — raising more suspicions from the likes of Schulman — Krall said he would press on with his quest.

“Queens is 1,000 beds short. This isn’t about Dr. Aquino. It’s about fixing the bed shortage,” Krall said. “I have spoken to everyone who is a part of a revival of the hospital ... everybody is still on board.”

In an email message he sent on Tuesday, Krall acknowledged the charges against Aquino, and urged the community to embrace the reopening of Parkway even more after David Rosen resigned as CEO of Jamaica Hospital.

“I also hope that all the local elected officials as well as the residents of Queens recognize the fact that the Gloria D’Amico Medical Center is not connected in any way, shape or form to the accusations made in the newspapers,” he said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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