The former Chief Operating Officer of MetroHealth Hospital System and three other men were indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud the hospital and others through bribes and kickbacks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars related to the hospital's dental program, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Edward R. Hills, 56, worked in various positions at MetroHealth including interim president, chief executive officer, COO and Director of MetroHealth Dental.
Authorities said he received bribes from Sari Alqsous, 32, Yazan B. Al-Madani, 32, and Tariq Sayegh, 38.
All three men are dentists who worked for MetroHealth, according to the press release.
"This investigation found that these defendants were motivated by greed to manipulate the health care system and extort dental residents in order to line their own pockets," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
According to the press release, Hills, Alqsous and Al-Madani took part in the conspiracy since 2008 through this year, which involve a series of bribes in the form of cash, checks, a $3,879 Louis Vuitton briefcase, television, airline flights and the use of a downtown apartment to Hills from Alqsous, Al-Madani and others.
Hills, Alqsous and Al-Madani instructed people not to cooperate with law enforcement after becoming aware of the federal investigation in 2014.
MetroHealth has cooperated fully with the investigation and taken corrective actions in accordance with its Code of Ethical Behavior, according to a press release from MetroHealth.
The charges are a result of an investigation that started in 2014 when it alerted law enforcement of possible irregularities in one of its departments.
“These government-funded programs were designed to help the men, women, and children of Cuyahoga County, but these individuals defrauded them for their own personal gain and used their companies as personal piggy banks," Kathy Enstrom, IRS special agent, said in a statement.