It turns out Interfaith’s long-standing and highly publicized financial woes were exacerbated during its lowest moments by a behind-the-scenes network of back-door dealings and white-collar thievery, according to an investigative report by The Daily News.
On Dec. 2, 2012, Interfaith Medical Center filed for bankruptcy claiming a shortfall of $200 million budget, caused primarily by big cuts in federal subsidies. Immediately, city, state and federal elected officials representing Bedford-Stuyvesant, along with hospital union launched a very vocal and relentless public campaign, lobbying the state for help.
The beleaguered hospital finally was cleared of bankruptcy on June 4. And the state approved enough funding to get the hospital back on its feet.
But apparently, during the 18 months that the Bed-Stuy hospital was in bankruptcy court — from Dec. 2, 2012, through June 19, 2014 — a group of lawyers, accountants and financial advisers managed to pilfer $16.7 million more in fees and expenses, reported the paper.
This group of highly paid consultants where financially engorging themselves from the trough, during the hospital’s most vulnerable period.
The scandal has shaken the dozens of community leaders and elected officials who, for months, were on the front lines pleading with the state to keep the struggling hospital’s doors open.
On Monday, New York City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., one of the earliest and most vocal champions for the hospital, expressed outrage at the situation during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
“The energy and hard work of a lot of people went into saving Interfaith from closure last year. Seeing the community rally behind the hospital in its time of need was very encouraging. Unfortunately, a few individuals [seized this] as an opportunity to line their pockets and took advantage not only of the institution, but of the taxpayers, as well.”
During the bankruptcy proceeding, a federal monitor red-flagged as questionable more than $700,000 in bills. The monitor singled out bills he felt couldn’t be explained, charges for over-priced meals and — perhaps most galling of all — dozens of billable hours charged for the time spent tallying up the bills.
Two accountants even charged the struggling hospital nearly $30,000 just to travel from their Edison, N.J., office to visit Interfaith or to attend court hearings in downtown Brooklyn, records show.
Cornegy has called on Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson to investigate the scandal.