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Health News Florida

Ex-HMA Boss Acquitted in Cover-Up

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The former leader of Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda was acquitted Thursday of charges he tried to boost referrals to the hospital by writing false information on letters and signing another doctor’s name to them, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

A federal jury took about an hour to acquit Joshua Putter, a former executive with the Health Management Associates hospital, on one count of the destruction, alteration or falsification of documents, the News-Press reports. Putter, who was Chief Executive Officer of the hospital from 1998 to 2005, now operates a frozen yogurt store in Hollywood, according to The Charlotte Sun.

This case stems from a 2011 whistle-blower lawsuit involving the kickback scheme. It also is attached to a group of federal lawsuits against HMA that allege similar schemes took place at hospitals in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Florida, the News-Press reports. Those cases are on hold pending a possible settlement, according to the News-Press.

Charlotte Regional, along with the other Florida HMA hospitals, is now owned by Community Health Systems Inc. of Tennessee.