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12/18/2012 4:00:00 PM
Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
A summary of the memo states that Burton, Hudson and Sartin have relationships with Sahlolbei and that current pending business decisions will have
A summary of the memo states that Burton, Hudson and Sartin have relationships with Sahlolbei and that current pending business decisions will have "significant financial impacts" on Sahlolbei and Sartin's business, Desert Air Ambulance.

BLYTHE - A memo issued to the Palo Verde Healthcare District board by a former district attorney, warns of several potential conflicts of interest involving members Sandy Hudson, Sam Burton and Board President Trina Sartin, should they vote on issues that benefit hospital surgeon Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei, including his continued privileges at Palo Verde Hospital.

The 19-page document came from former Riverside District Attorney and Special Counsel Grover Trask, Special Counsel Parissh Knox, and former hospital legal counsel Robert Patterson, all of Best, Best & Krieger, the firm that served as the Healthcare District's attorneys for the past six years. The new board fired the firm at a special meeting this past Friday.

Sartin, Burton and Hudson voted to fire Patterson and the legal firm; board members Catalina McClain and Quitty Pinon voted to retain them.

A summary of the memo states that Burton, Hudson and Sartin have relationships with Sahlolbei and that current pending business decisions will have "significant financial impacts" on Sahlolbei and Sartin's business, Desert Air Ambulance.

"Decisions by Board members Hudson, Sartin or Burton regarding Dr. Sahlolbei, whether directly or indirectly affecting their financial interests, may constitute conflict of interest violations of the Political Reform Act," the memo states.

The report states that Hudson's husband and niece own the home that Sahlolbei rents; that Sahlolbei has encouraged emergency room doctors to use Sartin's air transport business; and that Burton, the pastor of Shiloh Agape Ministries, Inc., has admitted that Sahlolbei recently donated $1,000 to Shiloh Agape Ministries, Inc. through an intermediary.

"Board member Hudson's husband, (Richard Michael Hudson), and his niece, Kim Dean, own the house where Dr. Sahlolbei lives in Blythe," the memo contends.

"Therefore, Board member Hudson has a reportable and disqualifying interest in the real property. Mr. Hudson is a tenant in common to the property. According to Director Hudson, Mike Hudson is a tenant in common and a co-signer of the mortgage loan to finance the home to facilitate financing of the property for the benefit of her niece, Ms. Kim Dean. According to Ms. Hudson, Dr. Sahlolbei pays rent only to Ms. Dean. As a tenant in common, Mr. Hudson has a legal right to receive one half of the rental income from the property. Even if he allows all of the income to be collected by Ms. Hudson's niece, he is responsible for the repayment of the loan as a cosigner."

The memo clarifies that whether the home is classified as community or separate property, investments in real property by spouses are still subject to disqualification for Hudson.

"If Dr. Sahlolbei did not rent the house, Director Hudson's husband could be required to repay the loan related to the property as evidenced by the deed of trust on the Property," the memo states. "The Hudsons have an interest in assuring that the house remains rented to Dr. Sahlolbei to avoid this possibility. The fact that the property is occupied, rented and maintained assures that the Hudson's financial interest retains its full market value. If it were unoccupied its value would decline. Mr. Hudson, as a tenant in common, would be responsible for one half of the maintenance expense for the house and he could be liable for any loans attached to the property."

The memo concludes that Sahlolbei appears to be an "economic interest" to Hudson either as a source of income, by protecting her husband's personal financial interest from incurring legal liability or providing some other personal benefit valued at $500 or more in a calendar year in exchange for his use of the residence owned by Hudson's spouse.

Hudson did not disclose this property or Sahlolbei as a source of income on her latest Statement of Economic Interest (Form 700), nor did she report it on her Form 700 during her tenure on the Board in 2008-2010.

"Since Board member Hudson did not derive actual funds from Dr. Sahlolbei for residing at this property, further inquiry is required to determine whether Dr. Sahlolbei provided some other personal benefit valued at $500 or more during a calendar year for this residence," the memo reads.

The memo says that since Hudson's husband is a tenant in common to the property, he is entitled to a share of the rents from the rental of the property even if he transferred those to his niece as a gift.

"Furthermore, the fact that Dr Sahlolbei rents the property reduces the risk that he will be called on the loan to pay the bank or lose the property through foreclosure," the memo states. "If any economic relationship exists between Dr. Sahlolbei and Board member Hudson's husband, there is a potential conflict of interest on any matters that come before the Board for a decision involving Dr. Sahlolbei's personal interests. Board member Hudson has an interest in the community and separate property income of her spouse."

The memo states that factual information in part was obtained from reviewing the Board's Form 700s. In 2010, Hudson disclosed interest in and income from La Querencia, a property management company she claimed to manage; however, 20 months later, she did not include this business interest and income from the business in her candidate statement. In addition, Hudson must disclose sources of income received during the 12 months prior to filing her candidate statement and she reported no income for herself or her spouse.

In 2010 and previous to that, Hudson did not disclose her spouse's investments in business, interests in real property or income as required.

On her candidate Form 700, Hudson did not disclose any income, investment or interests in real property held by her spouse, yet her spouse holds title as a tenant in common to real property located in Blythe.

"This property is held as Richard Hudson's property, however, all investments, property and income of a spouse, are reportable even if they are separate property," the memo states.

Sartin owns Desert Air Ambulance and its sister company, Desert Critical Care Transport, which provides fixed wing air transportation and ground medical transportation for patients of the hospital. According to the memo, it does not provide these transportation services through express written agreements with the district.

"It appears that Dr. Sahlolbei takes an active role in promoting the business of Desert Air," the memo states. "In the past several years, Dr.Sahlolbei has taken an active role in encouraging the hospital emergency room physicians to use Desert Air. Whether there is a verbal or implied contract regarding this arrangement with the District is a significant factor that should be investigated."

The memo says that there are no available facts to indicate that Sahlolbei has any financial interest in the Desert Air or CCT but that as an influential member of the Medical Executive Committee ("MEC"), on approximately Dec. 17, 2010, he directed and took it upon himself, either individually or through his position on the MEC, to formulate a Transfer and Referral Policy also called a "Physician Referral Policy" for the hospital emergency room.

"His participation and influence ensured the enforcement of this policy by going to each primary care physician and influencing the physicians to sign off on the preference transportation cards known as 'Primary Care Physician preference cards,'" the memo states. "Through his influence and direction, a large number of patient transfers have been authorized through Desert Air."

The memo quotes Sahlolbei as telling the hospital CEO Peter Klune that he was justified in his actions as it would benefit the community even if it disadvantaged a few.

"Dr. Sahlolbei has also made repeated public statements during the hospital board meetings in support of Board member-elect Sartin's air transportation company and denouncing its competition, Blythe Ambulance."

The report contends that Sahlolbei may be a source of income to Sartin as he personally participated in formulating and instituting the Physician Transfer Policy and publicly denounced new patient transport adopted by the board, which were designed to give the ER physician sole authority to make transport decisions.

"Based on this policy and other facts, it has been alleged that he has been assertive and insistent that all primary care physicians use Desert Air for a majority of patient air transfers to the point of chastising physicians or removing their ability to practice medicine if the policy was not followed," the memo states. "Dr. Sahlolbei, by his own actions, has most likely made himself a source of income to Ms. Sartin because of the significant effect it has on Board member Sartin's economic interests."

Burton told the lawyers that his church received the $1,000 donation from Sahlolbei in October.

"The donation is not currently on his Form 700," the report states. "Any new donations by Dr. Sahlolbei would have to be reviewed to determine whether or not there may be any potential violations of either the Act or 1090 on prospective of decisions involving Dr. Sahlolbei."

A decision involving Sahlolbei, the memo says, could affect the personal financial interests of Hudson's husband and in effect, her; that Sartin's personal finances benefit because Sahlolbei directly promotes and influences her business, Desert Air, and that Sahlolbei has donated funds to Burton's church that may be an economic interest to Burton and that his compensation from Shiloh Agape Ministries, Inc. is probably a source of income that should be reported on his Form 700.

"It is presumed that the effect of a decision by Board members Burton, Sartin and Hudson will have a material financial effect on Dr. Sahlolbei with regards to the lawsuit, his privileges, his on call agreement and the medical director agreement because these matters are directly before the Board," the memo states.

The Healthcare District Board and Palo Verde Hospital currently have a fraud lawsuit filed against Sahlolbei. The memo states that Sahlolbei's privileges to perform surgery at the hospital expire in three months and will come before the Board as early as Dec. 11.

The district board previously approved a resolution authorizing the CEO to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for exclusive surgery services at the hospital and Sahlolbei has an interest in the outcome of this process. It also authorized the CEO to issue RFPs for air transportation services.

"This RFP and contract would have a significant effect on Dr. Sahlolbei because if he is not the winning proposal, he could no longer practice medicine at the Hospital or receive his on call payments and his medical director payments," the memo states. "It is reasonably foreseeable that the effect of the exclusive surgery RFP/contract will be many hundreds of times in excess of the $1,000 threshold. He is paid $1,000 per day for being on call, $3,000 for medical director fees and virtually his entire income from practicing medicine. Therefore, these decisions, if participated in by directors Sartin, Hudson or Burton, would have a material financial effect on Dr. Sahlolbei."

The memo states that the transport of one patient is currently valued at approximately $15,000, and that an indirect governmental decision involving Desert Air, including but not limited to the RFP, would materially affect Desert Air.

"Any decision involving air transportation services, including the EMTALA transportation policy, could have a material effect on Desert Air," the report states. "The CEO has been directed to implement this resolution by the Board. Any influence or participation of a Board member related to the RFP and exclusive contract process creates a potential financial conflict of interest regarding Desert Air and Board member Sartin."

Download the Best, Best & Krieger memo

Related Stories:
• Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei arrested (UPDATED)
• Desert Air official fought to halt emergency helicopters from landing at hospital
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• Sahlolbei sues hospital in federal court
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Medical staff needs to take responsibility for failing grade
• Hospital receives 'F' grade from patient safety advocacy group
• Healthcare District Board authorizes CEO to issue RFPs to contract out transportation and surgical services
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Let's get bids on hospital services and then make a decision
• Sahlolbei attorneys file demurrer in response to suit

Related Links:
• 10/21/2012 6:06:00 PM Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei
• Doctors drop suit against hospital Board
• Sahlolbei no stranger to courtrooms: Hospital Chief of Staff has sued at least 17 people in Riversid

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012
Article comment by: just me@the shadow knows

The board did use her as the scape goat.Have you read any comment's offering a defense for her actions..I don't find the complaint being filed as a wrong doing.I feel the board has done her wrong by firing the attorney and not letting it be investigated.And the reason for the termination was to prevent the truth from being made public.Now she suffers all the negative comments..Hudson claims it is to save the district money .I recall reading her plattform how she has the ability to bring money back into the hospital .She now needs to git er done.

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012
Article comment by: The shaddow knows

To Blythe Observer!
BINGO! These three were more worried about an ALLEGED Brown act violation than dealing with clearing their name. Sam Burton, Trina Sartain, and Sandra Hudson refuse to address this issue in public.You forgot to mention the donation to PALS for Pam Bush from Dr. S .She doesn't have voting rights like the other three but it explains how they got her to be the scape goat. It is called "transparency"!

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe Observer

Seems no one is interested in this article?
Why only the one that refers to the three Board members Sam Burton, Sandra Hudson and Trina Sartin voiding a legal Board meeting just because of a letter from Pam Bush.
Could there of been collusion?
I think the possibility of conflict of interest with Dr. Sahlolbei that states Monies given to Sam Burton's Church, Sahlolbei renting a house that Sandra Hudson's husband has legal interest in or Dr Sahlolbei pushing business to Trina Satin's business is very important.
Don't you?

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Article comment by: Could this be YOU

Evaluation of UC Davis Medical Center's handling of neurosurgeons is scathing

Read more here:

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: @ Tweetie Bird


Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: @WHATS DIFFERENT

One difference is U ain't readen. What U posted is what was amended. Add this line to U'r list: "including but not limited to, LEGAL COUNSEL (that means the Board's lawyer) and HEALTH CARE (that means doctors, surgens, nurses) and other CONSULTANTS to assist in the Hospital's ongoing compliance efforts......." authorty that the board had,

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: Whats Different

And what is the big deal, this is what you approved when you where first on the Board!

Section 1.
2. Responsibilities
Mr. Klune, as CEO, shall be responsible to the District for all actions concerning
the District's management, operations and finances and in particular the management and
operation of the Palo Verde Hospital. In particular, he shall be responsible for, but not limited to:

a. Perfonning all functions and duties as the Chief Executive Officer of the
District and perfonning other legally pennissible and proper duties and functions as the District shall, from time to time, assign in accordance with applicable law.
b. Interviewing, hiring, reviewing and tenninating employees, department
heads and officers.
c. Managing all aspects of personnel employed by the District.
d. Managing the provision of accessible high quality health care services to
the diverse community that the District serves.
e. Establishing a preferred practice environment for physicians, nurses and all
allied health care professionals.

In addition, Mr. Klune shall perfonn such other duties as may be assigned by the
District Board of Directors. The District agrees to provide or reimburse Mr. Klune for adequate
technology (computer and cellular telephone) to accomplish his duties.

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: Tweetie Bird

This won't make the cut, but the amendment to the CEO's contract is why the lawyer was fired.
He also approved the meeting in contempt of the court's injunctive order. Under this amendment, the board give up its authority to the CEO: Sec.1 2 Responsibilities (CEO). b. "interviewing, hiring, retaining, engaging, reviewing, setting and paying compensation on behalf of the District, and terminating all employees, department heads, officers, conractors, and professionals, including, but not limited to, legal counsel and health care and other consultants to assist in the Hospital's ongoing compliance efforts with respect to the federal and state laws, including, but not llimited to, those related to goverhment payment programs and conflicts of interest."
The fired Lawyer approved this amendment. Why have a board, they just gave away all of their authority, even the hiring and firing of the lawyer for the Board?

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: @ Burton

"Burton, the pastor of Shiloh Agape Ministries, Inc., has admitted that Sahlolbei recently donated $1,000 to Shiloh Agape Ministries, Inc. through an intermediary."

Sounds very suspicious, why an "Intermediary"?

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: just me@Samuel Burton

what makes the donation stink is it was done in Oct.just prior to elections. (deleted)..How can you a board member sit during those meetings and watch and listen to him rant and rave and yet still support him.Vote to fire the attorneys to prevent the community that you cliam you are on the board for learn the truth ..And I feel sure you will work on getting the fraud case dropped as well.You know as well as I know the Bible tells us we cant serve two Master..God be with you.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: Aj McKay

It doesn't affect everyone in the area. Only those who will need care in the future. There is always accidents. That's a given. But unless 100% of the citizens of Blythe needed care you are wrong. The people who do is a small percentage anyways. You can't assume the entire population is at risk for accidents or illnesses. Also, you are saying that if other doctors come in they would be perfect with no chance of error? Maybe PVVT should d an article on lawsuits and malpractice at other hospitals within 150 miles of Blythe just to give the people and understanding that we are not the only hospital with issues that need attention. We can't speak for other cities, but only for our own town. I understand that. The problem is regardless of who is right or wrong, nobody is willing to accept due process or the outcome it will bring. The law or court process isn't even good enough for most people who have a vendetta against the hospital or it's employees. Maybe I should ask these questions. What will having opinions or lashing out at individuals do for the situation that the legal system will not confirm or deny in time? Or will we have the usual "the court system doesn't work" if people are not satisfied with any outcomes? My point is that nothing will change as far as opinions. People of Blythe will have something to say one way or another. That's simply the character of this town. So much for reporting facts instead of speculation I guess. Like I said, whatever sells and draws interest. Smh . . . .

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Article comment by: Samuel Burton

First of all If you have a question about Sam Burton ask Sam Burton! Dont use Palo Verde Times or a psuedonym to Bully or try to smear someone . Ill tell you to your face What you didnt say was that when Burton found out in December about the donation in October It was reported immediately to the board and CEO Klune and Burton voluntarily recused himself from voting on any matter that presented a conflict of interest until further notice from legal advice .Dont think for a minute I will sit here and be bullied I am not mad at you for trying to sell papers but get your facts from the source .Marty Bauchman I meant what I said I only want to do whats right and best for the community and I will . Marty I love you Bro but dont come at me like that .If you want to make changes run get elected and vote but people are not falling for the okee doke !like I said Much love to you and Ill see you at 9 am you know when and where . Take care and God Bless
Sam Burton aka REV-B

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: just curious

It's interesting that no one publishes all the people who complained in the board meetings about the hospital telling the ER physicians that they have to use Blythe Ambulance. Even if they requested Desert Air the ER physician said they were told they were not to use them. One person stood up and said the hospital could tell them who to use if they were willing to pay the bill. Its also very interesting that the only board members who were attacked were the ones that fired the attorneys and the document came directly after the attorneys were terminated and was released by the attorneys and yet they were supposed to be advising the board members all along and weren't. It is also not mentioned that Dr. Sahlolbei makes donations all over town for a number of people and buys animals during the 4H auction to support this community. Reporting problems is good reporting slanted half truths is irresponsible. Now I'm wondering how much of this comment will make the blog.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: @An McKay

It ought to be clear to anyone that the "business" of this hospital affects every single person in this area, and people who pass through. A child gets sick, breaks an arm any person can be hospitalized for car accidents, possibly work-related we have elderly who may need hospital care at any time. Get serious. You may be right in that not many people care about the business of the hospital - until they need it - NOW. A two-hour drive can be the difference between a life and death. With all the unprofessional and unethical goings on, who can predict which screw-up will happen when it is most needed. Maybe Dr. S. will be having one of his temper tantrums or some other type of thing which SHOULD NOT happen in a well-run hospital. That is what some are trying to protect us all from.

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: An McKay

When someone can legitimately explain how what goes on in the hospital affects the majority of the households in Blythe directly you might, just might start making an acute bit of sense. Most households in Blythe do not deal with the business aspect of the community nor do they get involved because they are simply clueless regardless of the information they receive. The hospital issues whether good or bad will not make or break Blythe as a community. It's just another topic for people to vent about and take sides. If people put the same amount of effort they do worrying about the hospital, volunteering in youth or communities programs would make a bigger difference in Blythe with immediate results. I doubt people would put themselves on a volunteer list for two hours a week towards something helpful in Blythe.

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