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  • Writer's pictureWRIL-FM

The City of Pineville files lawsuit against SEKMC and President Grant White for unpaid tax debt

From WRIL/Ellwood City Ledger

Along with another bankruptcy hearing next Wednesday in London against the Pineville Hospital Association, the city of Pineville itself has filed a lawsuit against the management company Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Americore Health and personally against it's CEO Grant White for unpaid occupational taxes.

White has time and time again promised the city that the outstanding occupational taxes from 2018 would be paid, but the debt continues to go unanswered. White stated in a 2018 interview with WRIL that he was responsible for the taxes beginning in May of that year and that they would be paid. There have also been outstanding issues with local utility providers having to threaten service termination in order for long overdue bills to be paid.

The hospital and Americore has been under investigation by the Kentucky Attorney Generals Office and Labor Board for it's payroll issues along with periods of time that employees medical insurance was dropped by carriers. There has recently been issues with what is known as shotgun billing. Hundreds of people in the area have recieved bills with little to no explanation as to the reason for the bills often times already covered by insurance or that the person hasn't been to the facility in several years.

In another Americore run facility the Ellwood City Ledger reports that a South Carolina-based lender last week filed a judgment of more than $5 million against the struggling Ellwood City Medical Center, however the hospital’s owner said Wednesday April 10th the matter has been resolved.

Reached by email, Grant White, CEO of Americore Health LLC, the Fort Lauderdale-based owner of the hospital, said, “The issue has been resolved amicably.” He did not offer any other information.

Before White’s comments, Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court said it was his understanding the hospital had 30 days to come up with the money or the doors would be padlocked.

Penn Med LLC, a Hilton Head, S.C.-based lender, filed judgment last week in Lawrence County Court on a breach of contract complaint that alleges companies associated with the hospital’s purchase in October 2017 never repaid $4.5 million for a loan taken out then.

They had until September 2018 to repay the entire debt, with options to extend to April 1, which is when Penn Med filed the complaint in the office of Prothonotary Jodi Klabon-Esoldo.

Named in the document as defendants are Americore Health LLC, Ellwood Medical Center LLC and Ellwood Medical Center Real Estate LLC. White is listed as the president of all three companies.

Penn Med is seeking its principal $4.5 million, a $500,000 bonus payment, $226,080 in interest and $4,000 in attorney fees for a total of approximately $5.23 million. And because the medical center was offered as collateral for the loan, the company would have the right to seize the facility to be used toward repayment of the debt, according to the agreement. The deadline for repayment would be April 30.

Because of the type of document White signed to get the loan, he would have limited remedies for fighting the judgment. A confession of judgment is a legal document that lets the plaintiff file a ruling against a defendant without having to go through normal court proceedings. Pennsylvania is one of a few states that allow enforcement of these documents.

Workers there have reported at least 15 incidents of either delayed or disrupted payrolls since August. They had to wait three weeks to receive their Dec. 21 paychecks and nearly two weeks for their Jan. 4 wages. Since then, hourly workers have had six paydays in a row where they only received minimum wages and had to wait up to two weeks to receive the remainder of their pay.

Since January, the medical center has been under federal and state investigations tied into the payroll issues and reports on non-payments to vendors. The Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office also is conducting a criminal probe into financial maneuvers by hospital leaders including White.

In addition, the hospital has not paid its bill to the borough-run electric department since December, leading to an outstanding balance of about $125,000, Court said.

Because of the uncertainty, Ellwood City Council has scheduled a public hearing for 5:45 p.m. Monday to discuss implementing a hospital/medical zoning district in the area of the Pershing Street hospital to make sure it remains a medical facility if sold.

PCHA still owns the hospital real estate, but it entered a long-term lease deal and sold non-real estate assets to Americore.

In its bankruptcy petition, PCHA listed its assets as between $10 million and $50 million and listed its liabilities in the same range. PCHA said it has at least 200 creditors.

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