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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

LSHA: Illegally Constituted Gov’s Authority Board Refuses to Vet Main Contender for Vacated Hospital – Or Did It?

Hope Bridges’ Willie Peacock, using another LLC, Well Care, recently agreed to settle a lawsuit for $33 million.

Florida Dept of State listing of Willie Peacock
Columbia County Obserever graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Tonight’s meeting of the infamous Lake Shore Hospital Authority should be a doozie. Hospital Authority Manager Dale Williams once again waited until the last minute to have the backup material available for public inspection. Absent from the backup material is any mention of the $33,000,000 Willie Peacock settlement.

Background

In May 2020, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Governor’s Board (the Board) was advised that its tenant, CHS, was abandoning the Hospital.

On June 25, 2020, the Board authorized part-time Authority Manager Dale Williams to request Statements of Interest.

Three weeks later, at the July 2020 Board meeting, there wasn’t one mention of the Statements of Interest.

One month later, on September 10, the Governor’s Board was still trying to figure out what to do. The Hospital was within thirty days of abandonment. Four months had passed since Manager Williams was advised the Hospital was being abandoned.

During a special September 14, 2020, meeting, Manager Williams explained that maintaining the vacated Hospital would cost $147,000 a month. The Board approved $150k.

During the October and November Board meetings, there was no mention of the previously agreed Request for Proposal/Statements of Interest. The Hospital was now vacant for sixty days.

Finally, during the first meeting in January, Manager Williams mentioned the proposals and asked the Board members to contact the staff to set up a date.

During the February 8, 2021, meeting, there was no mention of any of the proposers for the Hospital. While Hospital Authority Manager Williams provided no documents showing the expenditures to keep the Hospital vacant, it appeared from the earlier figures the cost was about $620,000.

After spending approximately $620,000 to keep the empty Hospital going, one proposer appeared in front of the Board on March 17. On March 18, there was a regular meeting of the Authority. None of the proposals were mentioned in the minutes.

By May 10, 2021, one year after the Board discovered CHS was leaving town, only one proposer visited the Authority, Ace Medical.

Hospital Authority Loses the Required Board Member

Sometime after May, Dr. Mark Thompson had to resign from the Board. He moved out of the County. The Florida legislation establishing the Authority required that one Board member must be a physician practicing at the Hospital and also a Columbia County resident. Both requirements had to be met. Dr. Thompson was out.

In January 2022, Governor DeSantis appointed former public defender investigator and Republican operative Don Kennedy to be on the Board. He is not a physician practicing at the Hospital. He has stated he doesn’t want to be on the Board.

Now almost a year and a half after the Hospital was vacated and having spent over a million dollars on the vacated Hospital, there still was no urgency by Authority Manager Williams or the Governor's Board to get the ball rolling.

In January, the Board blew off a proposal from Meridian CEO Don Savoie.

In March 2022, Willie Peacock appeared at the Board meeting as the representative of Haven Health. His presentation disappeared, and Manager Williams said it could not be found.

In April, Heaven Health Peacock reappeared as Hope Bridges Peacock. He claimed that his attorney advised him to switch horses.

In May, now two years after Manager Williams knew CHS was vacating the Hospital, he informed the Board that he was working on scheduling a meeting of respondents to the RFP.

In June, Florida Gateway College President Larry Barrett made a presentation. The FGC Board was not behind President Barrett’s proposal.

Mike Peacock was also back, this time with a gaggle of folk, including Ace Medical. A new player, Julie Smith, appeared as an expert in veteran housing. However, her dream project was stalled in Tallahassee. She was silent about that.

Also, Meridian made a second presentation.

The big event during the June 2022 meeting was Board member Stephen Douglas making a motion for Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., and Authority accountant-auditor-external auditor-financial advisor (all one person) Richard Powell, CPA, a forty-year friend of Manager Williams, to work out a lease and other details with Hope Bridges principal, Willie Peacock. The motion passed unanimously.

Willie Peacock - Hope Bridges, Willie Peacock - Well Care:
A $33 million settlement

link to Gilead lawsuitOn November 3, 2020, in the US District Court Southern District of Florida, Gilead Sciences filed suit against many defendants. Highlighted in the media was one defendant, Willie Peacock.

Yes, that is the same Peacock making a play to take over the Authority's vacated Hospital, Shands at Lake Shore.

In every article exploring the Well Care sham found by the Observer, Well Care and its president, Mike Peacock, are highlighted.

In June of this year, Well Care and certain executives settled with Gilead for $33,000,000.

The 2020 complaint alleged that Mike Peacock and others wrongfully obtained millions of dollars in illicit profits by exploiting Gilead's charitable program, which provided the qualifying uninsured with free, life-saving HIV drugs.

Fierce Pharma, an industry publication, reported, "At the time, the company said the defendants established a scheme to recruit homeless or low-income people in Florida to seek fraudulent preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prescriptions through the company's free-drug access program.”

“Then the participating clinics pocketed reimbursement payments and often took the medicines back to repackage them and sell them on the black market.”

Zoey Becker of Fierce Pharma reported that a Gilead spokesperson explained the scheme this way. “Well Care and its president, Mike Peacock, played a central role in the conspiracy by partnering with one of the main defendant groups to expand the fraudulent scheme to Jacksonville and enrich themselves at Gilead's expense. The Well Care defendants actively recruited and paid thousands of vulnerable Floridians to enroll in Gilead's free-drug program for PrEP regardless of whether they wanted or needed PrEP medication, putting patient safety at risk."

Paul Schlosser of Endpoints News reported on the Gilead settlement, explaining that the lawsuit took 18 months and 860 court filings.

Mr. Schlosser wrote on June 29, 2022, “Gilead, along with healthcare clinic Well Care and execs Mike Peacock and Shajuandrine Garcia, reached a settlement worth $33 million last week.”

Mr. Scholsser highlighted the following from Gilead’s initial 138-page filing stating that the “schemes included a common modus operandi”:

"…recruiting individuals who earn low incomes or are homeless to serve as placeholder “patients”; prescribing those “patients” medically unnecessary, inappropriate, and often unwanted PrEP medication; falsely certifying to Gilead’s representatives that the prescriptions are medically necessary and appropriate; seeking reimbursement from Gilead, under false pretenses, for the cost of those fraudulently dispensed medications; unlawfully removing PrEP medication from its original, FDA-approved packaging and separating it from its original, FDA-approved labeling; repackaging PrEP medication in an unlawful, trademark-infringing, and potentially dangerous manner for dispensation to the recruited “patients”; and unlawfully repurchasing those medications back from “patients” for pennies on the dollar so they can be resold at a higher price on the black market. In addition to defrauding Gilead out of tens of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Gilead’s hard-earned goodwill, Defendants’ schemes have placed at risk the health — and even the lives—of Floridians who are economically challenged."

Mr. Scholsser continued, “Gilead further blasted the defendants in its original filing, calling the schemes ‘a colossal financial fraud.’”

Where is the Governor’s Board?

Weeks ago, Barbara Jeffords Lemley made a public record request for the contract and other information surrounding the Willie Peacock Hope Bridges deal.

Ms. Lemley was stonewalled and received nothing.

Even though there hasn't been a meeting of the Board in two months, Manager Williams did not provide the backup material to the public until yesterday.

Attorney Fred Koberlein billed the Authority for writing a contract. So far, he has not produced the contract.

Epilogue

In about an hour the Governor’s illegally constituted Board meets.

Under Board Chairman Beil, the rest of the Governor's appointments, and Authority part-time Manager Dale Williams, anything is possible.

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