Las Vegas Police Turn Results Of Hospital Probe Over To DA

Police have turned over to the Clark County district attorney the results of a nine-month probe of allegations that the former chief of University Medical Center steered hospital contracts to friends.

Las Vegas police Deputy Chief Kathy Suey said investigators think there is evidence to seek criminal charges, but she would not say whether police recommended charges against Lacy Thomas or others.

"We really look to the district attorney to tell us what the charges should be," Suey said.

Thomas was fired in January for misleading county commissioners about financial losses at the county's only public hospital.

He has not been charged with a crime.

District Attorney David Roger said it could take a couple of weeks to review the 60-page police report and decide whether to prosecute, take the evidence to a grand jury or seek more investigation.

Police raided executive offices at the Las Vegas hospital the day Thomas was fired.

Two other top hospital executives - finance chief Richard Powell and operating chief Marlo Hodges - also were removed.

Police began the investigation in November, after a county auditor faulted hospital decisions to contract with a private company for patient admitting, billing and other revenue-generating functions.

The investigation now focuses on hospital contracts awarded to at least seven companies run by friends and associates of Thomas in
Chicago, where Thomas was director of John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital
before being hired at UMC in 2004.

Stroger was formerly known as Cook County Hospital, the setting for the television show "ER."

University Medical Center, with 588 beds, has Nevada's only burn unit and the region's only top-level trauma center.

It also has a long-term rehabilitation center, and handles many of southern Nevada's indigent patients.

County officials say they do not expect UMC to turn a profit, but they were stunned when they had to tap money that had been set aside for parks and community centers to pay $60 million to cover last year's hospital losses.

The hospital also received a $41.4 million county subsidy for its 2007-08 budget.

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