Attorney opens up about SRHS : "It appears to me that there's at - - The News for South Mississippi

Attorney opens up about SRHS : "It appears to me that there's at least civil fraud"

A grand jury has decided that officials with Singing River Health System committed no "criminal wrongdoing" related to its failed pension plan. This after considering evidence and hearing testimony from current and former executives for the health system, the FBI, as well as an attorney and forensic accountant hired by Jackson County. But was there civil wrongdoing committed by Jackson County's second largest employer? A man who knows a lot about this case thinks so.

After considering evidence and testimony a grand jury came to the conclusion there was no evidence of embezzlement, theft or "criminal" wrongdoing that led to Singing River Health System's failed pension plan.

The grand jury had access to thousands of documents collected from the investigation including financial statements, yearly audits, emails, committee, trustee and board of supervisors meeting minutes. The report states the health system stopped putting money into the pension plan around 2010. Though no criminal wrong doing was found, an attorney hired by the county to investigate the issue said there's more to this story.

"It appears to me that there's at least civil fraud. There is fraud involved and they did lie. No question about it," said Billy Guice, an attorney hired by Jackson County.

He said documents stated the pension plan was being funded, when it wasn't.

"There was not personal gain from these miscommunications. It's not like I sent you a letter and tricked you out for some money. Yes, they tricked these people out of what they probably deserved, but it didn't go to someone else," said Guice.

In a statement Singing River Health System denied the claims. Officials said there was no fraud of any kind, civil or criminal.

The grand jury issued some of its findings stating several financial factors contributed to the pension's failure. Those include expansion, construction projects, excessive expenses, fewer government and insurance reimbursements and a large amount of uncollected debt from patients unable to pay for their medical bills.

The grand jury does however, believe officials with the health system should have told employees and retirees about the pension problem. Going forward, it recommends all employees and retirees be informed of any changes to the pension plan.

District attorney Tony Lawrence said he supports the grand jury's decision and hopes the hospital system and employees and retirees can reach a solution.

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