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Grand Jury Delving Into Universal

It's official, if anyone was in doubt: A federal grand jury is investigating three former top executives of Universal Health Care, a now-defunct Medicare-plan company in St. Petersburg.

(See other business news below)

Based on filings in U.S. bankruptcy court, the Tampa Bay Times reports that the former executives say they are "the subjects of an ongoing criminal investigation" by the U.S. Attorney's Office and other federal agencies that are not named. (Editor's note: This article is behind a paywall)

The Times identified the three as former general counsel Sandip Patel, former marketing director Jeff Ludy and former chief strategy officer Deepak Desai.  They seek the bankruptcy court's help in getting insurers to honor their claims for attorneys' fees and other expenses arising from the company's collapse.

What of Dr. Akshay "A.K." Desai, founder and former CEO/president of Universal? Nothing new, since reports that a bankruptcy official alleged Desai and others took kickbacks from vendors -- a charge Desai has denied.

Meanwhile, the furniture and artwork from Universal's headquarters was auctioned off this week.

In other news:

  • Stryker Corp. says it will buy Davie-based startup Mako Surgical Corp. for $1.65 billion, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
  • The new  board of HMA, the Naples-based hospital chain, is re-examining the proposed $3.9 billion sale of the company, Naples Newsreports.  The major shareholder of HMA stock forced out the old board after it agreed in July to sell the company to Community Health Systems, based in Tennessee.
  • The Royal Palm Retirement Center in Port Charlotte has been sold to a subsidiary of New York-based Fortress Investment Group for $18.1 million, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. (Paywall)
  • Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando says it will open a pediatric urgent-care center as soon as it finds appropriate rental space, the Orlando Business Journalreports. It will be competing against a company that already has five such centers in Central Florida.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.