Created By: Sheila LaCost on 01/26/1998 at 02:12 PM
| CN 1995-339|
Category: Ethics Rulings
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
DATED: January 15, 1998 OPINION NO. : CN 95-339
RE: In the matter of Dr. Charles Bolotte
The Louisiana Board of Ethics (the "Board") pursuant to the authority contained in LSA-R.S. 42:1141, conducted a private investigation concerning information that Dr. Charles Bolotte, a physician and member of the Assumption Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 Board of Directors (the "Hospital Board"), may have violated Sections 1111C(2)(d), 1112 and 1113B of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics (LSA-R.S. 42:1101 et seq.) (the "Code") by virtue of his relationships with Louisiana Psychiatric Management Company ("LAPM") and Dr. Ghadi Al-Asadi, contractors to the Hospital Board.
On the basis of information obtained by the Board during the course of this investigation, and with the concurrence of Dr. Bolotte, the Board now makes the following essential:
I. Dr. Charles Bolotte has been a practicing physician in the Assumption Parish area for over fifteen years. In June of 1986, he was appointed by the Assumption Parish Police Jury to serve on the Hospital Board. On July 7, 1986 at the first meeting of the Hospital Board, he was elected chairman of the Hospital Board.
FINDINGS OF FACT
2. In 1991, the Louisiana Legislature created an exception to the provisions of the Code for physicians who serve as board members of hospital service districts. The exception applied to parishes with a population of 16,000 or less. Assumption Parish, according to the 1990 census, has a population of 22,753.
3. In 1993, the Legislature amended the exception for physicians who serve on hospital service district boards to include parishes with a population of 25,000 or less. The exception was effective June 1, 1993.
4. On March 11, 1992, LAPM entered into a contract with the Hospital Board to provide management and medical services at the Assumption General Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, located at the Heritage Manor Nursing Home. LAPM was compensated $536,550 annually for its services.
5. On August 1, 1992, Dr. Bolotte entered into a contract with LAPM to serve as Chief of Medical Services at the Assumption General Adolescent Psychiatric Unit. Dr. Bolotte was paid $6,000 per month, and this contract remained in effect until June of 1995. When notified that his contract with LAPM might violate the Code, Dr. Bolotte stopped receiving monthly payments from January, 1993 until the exception to the Code became effective for Assumption Parish on June 1, 1993.
6. The Adolescent Psychiatric Unit was converted into a Geriatric Psychiatric Unit in January of 1995. The Hospital Board maintained its relationship with LAPM, which continued to manage the Geriatric Psychiatric Unit.
7. On July 1, 1995, the Hospital Board entered into a contract with Dr. Ghada Al-Asadi. Dr. Al-Asadi was paid $358,020 annually to manage the Geriatric Psychiatric Unit. Dr. Al-Asadi maintained this contract until January of 1996 when the Hospital Board was dissolved.
8. Dr. Bolotte entered into a contract with Dr. Al-Asadi to provide medical services at the Geriatric Psychiatric Unit on July 1, 1995. This contract paid bi-weekly installments of $2,308 to Dr. Bolotte and was effective until December, 1995.
The records of the hospital board indicate that Dr. Bolotte participated in the following transactions involving the contracts with LAPM and Dr. Al-Asadi:
Recorded Dr. Bolotte’s
Date Participation Board Actions
08/16/93 (P) Votes In Favor - Decision to approve an inpatient adult psychiatric unit
11/15/93 No Abstention - Dr. Kshetarpal requested to attend the next meeting
so that the Board may hear a presentation regarding his contract
12/08/93 Absent for Part - Dr. Kshetarpal proposes that the LAPM contracts be drafted. Of the Special Board authorizes a redrafting in accordance with the Meeting terms discussed
12/20/93 Votes In Favor - Review status of LAPM contract negotiations
- Resolution to have Co-Chairman Savoie sign the
LAPM contract upon board approval of all changes
03/21/94 Abstains - Lengthy discussion of LAPM contract - Resolution to have Co-Chairman Savoie sign the
05/16/94 Votes In Favor - Decision to accept bids for the addition onto the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit
- Authorization given to management to negotiate with
the Chabert Medical Center to take over the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit
06/13/94 No Abstention - Discussion on Adolescent Psych Unit: Chabert Medical Center will take over the facility Assumption General will manage the facility
10/24/94 Votes In Favor - Review of financial problems with Adolescent Psychiatric Unit
- Decision to open a Geriatric Psychiatric Unit as a
possible solution to funding problems
12/19/94 No Abstention - Review of status of the new Geriatric psychiatric unit
- Review of new Medicaid regulations applicable to the
unit. No Board action recommended or taken
03/20/95 Abstains - Negotiations with Dr. Kshetarpal for continued psychiatric services to begin on July 1, 1995
07/24/95 No Abstention - Executive session discussion concerning the approval
of Dr. Al-Asadi’s contract
At issue in this case are Sections 1111C(2)(d), 1112 and 1113B of the Code of Governmental Ethics.Section 1111C(2)(d) provides:
§1111. Payment from nonpublic sources
C. Payments for nonpublic service.
2) No public servant and no legal entity in which the public servant exercises control or owns an interest in excess of twenty-five percent, shall receive any thing of economic value for or in consideration of services rendered, or to be rendered, to or for any person during his public service unless such services are:
(d) Neither performed for nor compensated by any person from whom such public servant would be prohibited by R.S. 42:1115(A)(1) or (B) from receiving a gift.
The prohibited sources of income set forth in Section 1115A(1) and B include any
(1) Has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant's agency, or
(2) Is seeking, for compensation, to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by the public servant's agency, or
(3) Conducts operations or activities which are regulated by the public employee's agency.
Section 1112 of the Code prohibits a public employee from participating in transactions when certain persons have a substantial economic interest. Section 1112 states:
§1112. Participation in certain transactions involving the governmental entity
Section 1113B provides in pertinent part as follows:
A. No public servant, except as provided in R.S. 42:1120, shall
participate in a transaction in which he has a personal substantial
economic interest of which he may be reasonably expected to
know involving the governmental entity.
B. No public servant, except as provided in R.S. 42:1120, shall
participate in a transaction involving the governmental entity in which, to his actual knowledge, any of the following persons has a substantial economic interest:
(1) Any member of his immediate family.
(2) Any person in which he has a substantial economic interest of which he may reasonably be expected to know.
(3) Any person of which he is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee.
(4) Any person with whom he is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment.
(5) Any person who is a party to an existing contract with such public servant,or with any legal entity in which the public servant exercises control or owns an interest in excess of twenty-five percent, or who owes any thing of economic value to such public servant, or to any legal entity in which the public servant exercises control or owns an interest in excess of twenty-five percent, and who by reason thereof is in a position to affect directly the economic interests of such public servant.
§1113. Prohibited contractual arrangements
B. Other than a legislator, no appointed member of any board or commission, member of his immediate family, or legal entity in which he has a substantial economic interest shall bid on or enter into or be in any way interested in any contract, subcontract, or other transaction which is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such appointed member.
Finally, the exception contained in Section 1123(18) is important to examine in determining whether Dr. Bolotte was entitled to its application. The exception states:
This Part shall not preclude:
(18) A licensed physician who is a member of a board of commissioners for any hospital service district authorized by Chapter 10 of Title 46 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 located within a parish which has a population of twenty-five thousand or less from contracting or subcontracting from another provider with the hospital over which the board exercises jurisdiction. However, such licensed physician shall recuse himself from participating in any transaction before the board relating to any contracts entered into by him and permitted by this Paragraph.
III. It is the opinion of the Board that Dr. Bolotte violated provisions of the Code of Governmental Ethics by virtue of his relationships with LAPM and Dr. Al-Asadi while each was a party to contracts with the Hospital Board.
Absent the exception in Section 1123(18), Section 1111C(2)(d) prohibited Dr. Bolotte from providing compensated services to persons who had or were seeking contractual relationships with the Hospital Board. Further, Section 1112 prohibited him from participating in transactions in which he, his employer or any person with whom he had a contract had a substantial economic interest. As an appointed member of a board, Dr. Bolotte would not normally have been allowed to use recusal to cure the conflict. However, the exception in Section 1123(18) allowed, and in fact, mandated that he recuse himself from any transactions related to his contracts with LAPM or Dr. Al-Asadi. Dr. Bolotte’s position was that as Chairman, he did not vote on any matters; however, the exception mandated that he recuse himself from voting. The minutes of the Hospital Board meetings do not reflect such recusal. In some instances, the minutes show that all present, including, Dr. Bolotte voted in favor of issues regarding the psychiatric unit. The Board believes that these transactions were, in fact, “related to” Dr. Bolotte’s contracts.
It is the Board’s opinion that because Dr. Bolotte did not comply with the requirements of the exception, he also violated Section 1113B as he was “in any way interested” in the transactions which came before the Board involving LAPM and Dr. Al-Asadi.
The Board notes, however, that Dr. Bolotte provided a needed service in Assumption Parish. There are few licensed physicians practicing in the area. Dr. Bolotte assisted the Hospital Board in maintaining several of its operations.
The Board is authorized to impose fines upon finding that a violation of the Code has occurred. In this particular situation, given the facts outlined above, along with the fact that Dr. Bolotte fully cooperated with the Board during the course of the investigation, it is the conclusion of the Board that the interest of the public would be served by the imposition of a $1,000 fine along with the publication of this opinion.
IV. For the foregoing reasons:
DECREE AND ORDER
IT IS ORDERED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that Dr. Charles Bolotte violated Sections 1111C(2)(d), 1112A, 1112B(5) and 1113B of the Code of Governmental Ethics by virtue of his contractual relationships with Louisiana Psychiatric Mangement Company, Inc. and Dr. Ghada Al-Asadi, contractors to the Assumption Parish Hospital District No. 1 Board, of which Dr. Bolotte served as a member.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a fine of $1,000 be and is hereby imposed upon Dr. Charles Bolotte.
BY ORDER OF THE BOARD this 15th day of January , 1998.
s/ Robert Roland s/ T. O. Perry, Jr.
Robert Roland, Chairman T.O. Perry, Jr., Member
s/ Harry Blumenthal, Jr. s/ Ronald L. Sawyer
Harry Blumenthal, Jr., Vice-Chairman Ronald L. Sawyer, Member
s/ Robert P. Bareikis s/ Nathan J. Thornton, Jr.
Dr. Robert Bareikis, Member Nathan J. Thornton, Jr.,Member
s/ E. L. Guidry, Jr. s/ Edwin O. Ware, III
Judge E. L. Guidry, Member Edwin O. Ware, III, Member
s/ Virgil Orr s/ Carole Cotton Winn
Dr. Virgil Orr, Member Rev. Carole Cotton Winn, Member
s/ Justice Revius Ortique, Jr.
Justice Revius Ortique, Jr., Member
The undersigned (a) stipulates to the facts found by the Board; (b) waives the procedural requirements contained in Section 1141 of the Code; (c) admits that his conduct, as described above, violated the Code; (d) consents to the publication of this opinion; (e) agrees to comply with the conditions and orders set forth in this opinion; and (f) agrees not to seek judicial review of the findings and actions taken in this opinion.
s/ Charles Bolotte, M. D. 12-8-97
Dr. Charles Bolotte Date