Pend Oreille Hospital District (POHD)
Misappropriates Millions In Tax Dollars
(Press Release) Sandpoint, Idaho – The Pend Oreille Hospital District (POHD), established in 1969, has for nearly 50 years been misappropriating tax dollars to Bonner General Hospital, Inc., a private corporation. Since 1996, more than $16,800,000.00 of taxpayer money has been illegally transferred to the corporation. The total amount transferred to Bonner General Hospital, Inc. since 1969 is still being investigated.
In an effort to conceal the district’s decades-long pattern of unlawful conduct, some of the current trustees of the POHD have engaged in systematic violations of the Idaho Open Meetings Law and the Idaho Public Records Act.
The POHD Board of Trustees is chaired by Dr. Thomas Lawrence, of Sandpoint. Lawrence has served as a POHD trustee for nearly 30 years. Six of the POHD’s seven trustees, including Lawrence, also serve as directors of the board of Bonner General Hospital, Inc.
The others include Timothy Cochran, Vice-Chairman, of Sandpoint; Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84 Superintendent Shawn Woodward, of Sandpoint; Dr. Scott Burgstahler, of Sandpoint; Bart Casey, of Sandpoint; and James Frank, of Sagle.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office informed Chairman Lawrence, in a letter dated October 16, 2018, that the POHD was engaging in conduct that violated both the Idaho Code and the Idaho Constitution, concluding, “In summary, the District’s funding of Bonner Hospital, in our view, fails to comply with Idaho’s applicable constitutional and statutory provisions.”
Notwithstanding being put on notice by the Attorney General’s office of the POHD’s illegal conduct, the same six trustees who serve on the board of directors of Bonner General Hospital, Inc. subsequently voted to unlawfully transfer additional taxpayer funds from the POHD to Bonner General Hospital, Inc. on October 23, 2018, and again, on November 27, 2018. The POHD will be considering another unlawful transfer of $118,869.84 at its January 22, 2019 meeting.
Since blowing the whistle on the activities of the POHD, Trustee Daniel Rose has been ostracized, excluded from meetings, and refused documents and information necessary for him to carry out his duties as an elected official. Trustee Rose has retained Attorney Sean P. Smith in an effort to expose the conduct of the POHD and to secure a return of the millions of dollars of misappropriated taxpayer money.
It is a violation of the Idaho Criminal Code for a public officer to misappropriate public moneys. The Bonner County Sheriff, the Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney, and the Office of the Idaho Attorney General have all been made aware of the unlawful activity of the POHD. What actions these offices will take to investigate and prosecute the wrongdoers, or to secure a return of the misappropriated funds, remains to be seen.
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