By Chris Mosby, The Patch Staff
Posted April 12th 2019
(PHOTO: EDWARD HILL)
A former MetroHealth Hospital System executive has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for conspiring to defraud the hospital.
Edward Hills, 58, of Aurora was sentenced this week to 188 months in prison. His restitution will be determined at a later date, according to the Department of Justice.
“Dr. Hills violated the trust of taxpayers and the leadership of a hospital dedicated to serving the least among us,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “Dr. Hills earned this prison sentence by putting his greed above all else, soliciting and taking cash, rent payments, plane tickets, an expensive briefcase and other items as bribes.”
Hills was found guilty of criminal charges last year. Three other men, all dentists, were also found guilty for their roles in the conspiracy — Sari Alqsous, 34, of Cleveland; Yazan Al-Madani, 34, of Westlake; and Tariq Sayegh, 38, of Cleveland. Those three will be sentenced later this year, the Department of Justice said.
Hills was MetroHealth’s Chief Operating Officer and served as interim President and Chief Executive Officer from December 2012 to July 2013. During that time, the DOJ said, Hills accepted bribes including cash, checks, a $3,879 Louis Vuitton briefcase, a 55-inch TV, airline flights, and use of a downtown Cleveland apartment.
In exchange for the bribes, Hills allowed Alqsous, Al-Madani and Sayegh to work at their private dental practices when they were supposed to be at MetroHealth, according to the Department of Justice. During the trials, investigators presented evidence of these bribes in the form of text messages and meetings at expensive restaurants, which resulted in cash being deposited into Hills’ bank accounts.
The three dentists also used their positions of power to accept bribes, and funnel a portion of those bribes to Hills, in exchange for making it into the MetroHealth Dental Residency. Each year, the hospital system receives approximately 40 to 60 applications for just four to six residencies in its dental program.
For six years, between 2008 and 2014, the three dentists would target candidates from Jordan and tell them they had to pay a “donation” to the hospital in order to be considered for the residency. The donation had to be paid to the dentists, according to prosecutors. The Department of Justice said the dentists would even tell candidates that a portion of the money would be given to Hills.
“Misusing their position of trust for their own personal gain and obstructing justice by telling witnesses to not to cooperate with law enforcement is what ultimately lead to the downfall of these defendants,” said William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The success of this case is a direct result of the excellent partnership amongst IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Ohio Office of the Inspector General.”
Hills also led MetroHealth clients to the private practices of the three dentists, according to the DOJ. Hills was also convicted of filing false tax returns, according to the DOJ, and failed to claim $165,751 from his kickbacks.
“These four criminals hit Ohio’s taxpayers and healthcare system right in the teeth,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “With today’s sentence, justice struck back. I’m pleased our Bureau of Criminal Investigation could assist our law enforcement partners who investigated and prosecuted this case.”