Grand jury seeks records from CEO
A state district judge cleared the way Monday to question former state Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein, under oath, about his involvement in the awarding of one of the state’s largest contracts.
State attorneys had sought to stop the Oct. 10 deposition of Greenstein for a civil lawsuit filed by CNSI, which is seeking damages from the state for wrongful contract termination.
The state alleged improper communication between the Maryland company and Greenstein, a former CNSI executive, among its reasons for canceling the nearly $200 million contract earlier this year.
Greenstein, a former member of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cabinet, wants to testify in the case, two lawyers connected to the case said.
“He has no problem giving a deposition so he can tell the story and clear his name, so he can get a job,” said John McLindon, Greenstein’s personal lawyer. “He had absolutely nothing to do with the awarding of that contract.”
“He’s not taking the Fifth. He wants to testify,” said Lewis Unglesby, who represents CNSI, referring to a constitutional amendment that allows a person to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate him in criminal matters.
Unglesby said Greenstein’s deposition should not interfere with the state grand jury investigation.
“We are going to ask Greenstein about what he’s done or not done,” he said.
Also Monday, but unrelated to the court hearing, Client Network Services Inc. confirmed its chief executive officer, Adnan Ahmed, was served with a subpoena by a state grand jury investigating “... a systematic scheme to corrupt the bid process,” according to court documents.
The state canceled its contract for CNSI to process Medicaid claims earlier this year after news broke of a federal grand jury probe.
State officials cited a Louisiana law that allows “If the person awarded the contract has acted fraudulently or in bad faith, the contract shall be declared null and void.”
The state Attorney General’s Office then disclosed it had been looking into the contract award.
A short time later, Greenstein resigned as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. He denied doing anything improper and said he was not involved in contract award decisions.
Greenstein now lives in Seattle, Wash.
Judge Tim Kelley, of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, rejected Monday the arguments by the state’s lawyers to delay Greenstein’s scheduled Oct. 10 deposition in the CNSI civil lawsuit against the state.
Brent Hicks, who represents the state’s health agency, said the court should first rule on whether the CNSI lawsuit is premature.
Hicks referred to a pending state motion, scheduled to be considered Nov. 4, that alleges CNSI should not be in district court because the private company did not first access the state administrative appeals process in challenging cancellation of the contract.
The appeals process goes through the state Division of Administration, the office where the contract was canceled and its commissioner.
“I don’t think your jurisdictional issue is going to fly,” Kelley said. “Everybody in this room knows what the commissioner is going to say and it’s going to be back here with me anyway.”
Kelley then refused to delay Greenstein’s deposition.
The state’s lawyers can appeal that decision to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.
The state grand jury’s subpoena calls upon Ahmed — who is referred to as “a material witness” — to produce by Oct. 22 a long list of documents related to the firm’s quest to get the state pact, from company financial statements to communication between CNSI and the state health agency, invoices and receipts submitted for payment, and travel and expense reports.
“Our attorneys will review it and we will respond as required,” CNSI spokesman Sonny Cranch said.
Cranch said Ahmed has not personally been subpoenaed to testify. He has been subpoenaed as the custodian of records for the company, he said.