It’s a dreary Monday morning in D.C., but I saw this article on Law360 (subscription required, sorry) that brought a little cheer to the day.
Last Thursday, a jury in Fort Myers, Florida, acquitted the former division president of Health Management Associates, Inc. (HMA) of an obstruction of justice charge.
According to the superseding indictment (which is light on facts), Joshua Putter allegedly made a “false entry” in a letter to the CEO of a company called Carlisle Regional Medical Center. The supposed purpose of the false entry was to throw off federal investigators.
HMA is being investigated by the SEC, as well as DOJ and the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The jury did not take long to find Mr. Putter not guilty. The trial was two weeks long. The deliberations lasted just 90 minutes.
Most juries take that long to select a foreperson, get the exhibits and figure out what they want for lunch. There can’t have been much to the government’s case if the jury only needed 90 minutes to reach a verdict after hearing two weeks of evidence.
Perhaps the saddest part of the story is that Mr. Putter had left HMA at least two years before the superseding indictment. He then was the COO of Steward Health Care System in Boston from sometime in 2011 until June 2013, when he went on personal leave.
A local news story explained:
As he waited for trial, [Mr. Putter’s lawyer] said, Putter became an Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt franchisee, opening a store in the South Florida city of Hollywood.
Mr. Putter has been under indictment for a year, essentially lost his high-powered job and had to open a yogurt store. I wonder if the prosecutors are even the slightest bit remorseful for bringing what appears to be an extremely weak case against him. Did they consider the havoc it would wreak on his life?
P.S. Feel free to send me other federal court trial victories in white-collar cases. I’d be happy to post some good news here, rather than only about indictments, investigations and sentences. A little hope is a good thing for all of us.