CLEVELAND — The dispute between MetroHealth and former CEO Dr. Akram Boutros over allegations of misappropriation of funds continues in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Boutros was fired in November, one month before his planned retirement, after claims that he authorized more than $1.9 million in bonus payments to himself over a four-year period beginning in 2018, without disclosing those payments to MetroHealth's Board of Trustees.
In a court filing issued on Monday, MetroHealth says that "in direct contravention of the Board's exclusive and expressly stated authority, Dr. Boutros unilaterally determined certain year-end, rearward-looking goals, evaluated himself against those goals, and awarded himself over $1.9 million in bonuses based on his self-evaluation."
Boutros believed that the bonus payments fell in line with company policy. However, the filing said Boutros made no effort to inform the board about his own supplemental bonus program. "To the contrary, he concealed it," the filing added. You can read it below:
Monday's filing comes in response to one of the two lawsuits that Boutros has filed against MetroHealth after the health system terminated him. Specifically, MetroHealth answered the lawsuit first filed by Boutros on November 28 that accused them of multiple violations of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act and the MetroHealth System Board of Trustees Bylaws by the MetroHealth Board and its Chair, Vanessa L. Whiting.
The Ohio Open Meetings Act (OMA) requires public officials to deliberate, discuss, and conduct the people’s business in open meetings. This means that if a public body is meeting to discuss and decide public business, the meeting must be open.
Boutros believes that MetroHealth's board sustained "a pattern of noncompliance" with the OMA "over the course of at least the last two years." The MetroHealth response said Boutros never raised any concerns about compliance failure "until after he was terminated by the Board for cause for, among other things, acts of dishonesty."
In addition, Boutros claims that the MetroHealth Board of Trustees violated the law in the hiring process of his replacement. "When Dr. Boutros brought the illegality to the attention of Board Chair Vanessa L. Whiting, she caused the Board to retaliate by trumping up bogus charges against him for taking supposedly unauthorized bonuses and then terminating his employment on that basis," he said in his lawsuit.
MetroHealth says during the search process, which began in 2021, Boutros never claimed that the search was illegal. "It is only now, after the Board terminated Dr. Boutros' employment for cause for awarding himself over $1.9 million in unauthorized bonuses, that Dr. Boutros attempts to deflect from his own conduct by creating false stories of retaliation."
Boutros' suit from November 28 was later amended in December and can be read below:
In December, Boutros filed a second lawsuit against MetroHealth for breach of contract, defamation, wrongful termination, and civil liability for criminal acts related to retaliation and intimidation. Boutros believes MetroHealth's board has cost him $8 million in lost compensation, another $20 million in future job prospects, and tens of millions for anguish.
3News has reached out to Boutros' attorney for reaction and will post any updates here.
Editor's Note: Both videos in this story are from previous reporting on MetroHealth and Dr. Boutros.