By Howard Koplowitz
Dr. Robert Aquino, former chief executive officer of Parkway Hospital, pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal bribery charges — two weeks before his trial was set to begin, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Aquino pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff and admitted that he bribed former state Sen. Carl Kruger with $60,000 in exchange for Kruger’s lobbying on the Forest Hills hospital’s behalf in Albany, including ensuring that the hospital would stay open, Bharara said.
The hospital ultimately went into bankruptcy and closed its doors in 2008.
After resigning from the state Senate, Kruger pleaded guilty to corruption Dec. 20 and was scheduled to be sentenced in April.
“Robert Aquino was all too willing to make sure a bribe was paid to preserve his job as CEO of a hospital,” Bharara said in a statement. “Like others in this case, he chose to fight his battle with money under the table rather than play by the rules. And like others in this case, he now faces the prospect of jail. This office remains committed to breaking the chains of corruption that weigh down New York politics.”
Aquino’s trial had been set for Jan. 17 before he pleaded guilty Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
He now faces up to five years in prison, according to the details of his plea agreement.
Former MediSys and Jamaica Hospital Chief Executive Officer David Rosen, who was convicted on federal bribery charges in September, is expected to learn his fate Friday when he could be sentenced to as much as 70 years in prison.
After a three-week bench trial in September, Rosen was convicted of ordering MediSys, which owns Jamaica, Flushing and Brookdale hospitals, to pay more than $400,000 to late Queens state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio between 1999 and 2008.
In exchange for the funds, Seminerio advocated on Rosen’s behalf with state agencies, co-sponsored legislation to benefit MediSys and lobbied on the health system’s behalf in its effort to acquire St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals, which at the time were owned by Caritas.
Seminerio pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to six years in a North Carolina prison in February 2010. He died in January 2011 while appealing the decision.
Rosen was also found to have given Assemblyman William Boyland (D-Brooklyn) a no-show job between 2003 and 2008 that netted Boyland $35,000 a year.
Boyland was acquitted of corruption charges Nov. 10 but charged again, this time with bribery, Nov. 27 by Manhattan federal prosecutors.
In exchange for the payments, Boyland in 2008 allegedly asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to give millions of dollars to Brookdale, according to Bharara.
In addition to a maximum prison sentence of 70 years, Rosen also faces a $250,000 fine.
Aquino is charged with contacting Kruger to get the senator to lobby on Parkway’s behalf for the Caritas hospitals.
The former Parkway head is also accused of giving $60,000 to Salomon Kalish, a Brooklyn health care consultant, with half of those funds being funneled to Kruger, Bharara said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.