Former state health chief Bruce Greenstein on Monday pleaded not guilty to nine counts of perjury.
Greenstein’s attorney, John McLindon, entered the plea in 19th Judicial District Court for Greenstein, who waived his court appearance.
Greenstein now lives in Seattle.
“It’s a long way to come to say two words,” said McLindon, explaining his client’s absence.
A special state grand jury in late September indicted Greenstein on multiple perjury charges related to his involvement in the award of a nearly $200 million state government contract.
Greenstein’s alleged untruths occurred during sworn testimony before a state Senate confirmation hearing and before the grand jury. The alleged perjury related to testimony he gave about contacts with his former employer, Client Network Services Inc., which got the lucrative Medicaid claims processing contract in 2011.
From the beginning, controversy surrounded the multiyear pact. Companies that lost out complained that CNSI had low-balled the price. Later, former CNSI employee Steve Smith claimed the company had insider knowledge.
The state alleges there were improper contacts before, during and after the contract’s award. Greenstein acknowledged minor contact. Records indicated steady communication between Greenstein and CNSI executive Carroll Creighton. McLindon said the two are friends and a vast majority of the communications were personal.
The term of the grand jury that indicted Greenstein ends Nov. 18.
Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell, whose Louisiana Department of Justice is prosecuting, said the investigation is continuing into the contract’s award.
Caldwell said he will either empanel a new grand jury or use one already in session on other matters as the case continues. The investigation can continue into 2015 without running into legal time limitations on bringing action.
“This case is so complex,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said the state pursuit of the criminal case has been complicated by a civil lawsuit filed by CNSI, which is suing over wrongful contract termination.
Caldwell’s office turned over a transcript of Greenstein’s grand jury testimony to McLindon during Monday’s brief court session.
McLindon said he would soon file a discovery motion seeking other documents as well.
McLindon said there is support in the community for Greenstein.
“It’s really been gratifying,” he said.
Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB.