Perjury charges dropped against former DHH chief Bruce Greenstein, related to state contract _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON – Former Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals secretary Bruce Greenstein.

Bruce Greenstein, the former head of the state Department of Health and Hospitals indicted on nine counts of perjury, no longer faces criminal charges after state Attorney General Jeff Landry dismissed the case against him Friday.

Greenstein, who was appointed DHH secretary by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2010 and who resigned in 2013, was indicted by a special state grand jury in 2014 on charges he lied under oath about his involvement in a state government contract worth some $200 million.

In a document filed Friday in the 19th Judicial District Court, Assistant Attorney General Brandon J. Fremin explained that when Landry took office, two prosecutors with a combined 50 years of experience re-evaluated some of the cases that had been launched under former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Landry’s predecessor.

“The conclusions in each review were that there was a factual basis for the grand jury to return the indictment on September 23, 2014 (against Greenstein). However, subsequent pretrial motions, discovery activities, investigations and hearings in related matters have provided additional information in the case,” Fremin wrote. “The state cannot meet its burden of proof and obtain a conviction that could be sustained under the standards required in appellate review.”

Fremin added there were “factors outside the control of the current attorney general” that influenced the decision.

Ruth Wisher, a spokeswoman for Landry, declined to comment on the decision to dismiss charges against Greenstein, citing ongoing litigation.

A civil case brought by Client Network Services Inc. — the company at the center of the case involving Greenstein, who once worked at the organization — is still pending against DHH and the Division of Administration, among other defendants, over the termination of the company’s contract.

Greenstein, in a prepared statement, said he and his family are vindicated and “relieved to bring this painful chapter to a close.”

“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Louisiana, who warmly welcomed my family and instilled in us a lasting love of this state’s rich culture,” Greenstein said. “I’m proud of much of what we accomplished during my time at DHH but ultimately disappointed that politics tarnished those achievements and stood in the way of doing more.

“But now is the time to put these unfortunate events behind us and wish the best of luck to Gov. (John Bel) Edwards and (DHH) Secretary (Rebekah) Gee in their efforts to improve the health of Louisiana’s people.”

Greenstein was accused of lying in two settings — during his Senate confirmation hearing in 2011 and before a Baton Rouge grand jury in 2014 — about his role in awarding a state contract to CNSI, a Maryland-based company that was hired to process Medicaid claims for the state. Greenstein had worked as the company’s vice president from 1995 to 1996.

Text message records show Greenstein was in frequent communication with Creighton Carroll, a company official, around the time the contract was awarded in 2011, but Greenstein has said he was merely friends with Carroll and his contact with him was mainly about personal matters.

The case was being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office after 19th Judicial District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III asked for assistance in the matter, and the document filed Friday says Moore deferred to Landry in the dismissal decision.

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The state Inspector General’s Office cooperated in the attorney general’s investigation of the case, but Inspector General Stephen Street said Friday the involvement was minimal and primarily had to do with sharing phone records his office had gathered.

Caldwell, the former attorney general, could not immediately be reached for comment.

But his son, David Caldwell, who had been the lead prosecutor on the case, said Friday he and his team had relied on solid evidence and he was disappointed to see the case dissolve.

“The grand jury indicted based on sufficient probable cause. The transcript speaks for itself,” he said, referring to testimony in the hearing and grand jury.

A state investigative report released before the indictment claims a former CNSI employee said a company official appeared to have had an advantage in landing the lucrative deal, specifically in knowing beforehand the right amount to bid in order to win the contract.

Emails released in connection with the case also show Greenstein playing a role in editing a request for proposals in a way that was seen as favorable to the company.

Greenstein, who has a background in health care and had worked at Microsoft, now lives in Seattle and has struggled to find steady employment since he left DHH, said his attorney, John McLindon.

“It’s hard to find a job when you have an indictment hanging over your head,” McLindon said.

McLindon said the dismissal came about after he asked Landry’s office to review what he called a “bogus case” involving “frivolous charges.”

“Jeff Landry did the right thing and saved the taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars prosecuting a meritless case,” McLindon said.

The civil case brought by CNSI against state agencies over the contract termination is scheduled for trial Oct. 11 in the 19th Judicial District Court.

Follow Maya Lau on Twitter, @mayalau.