By Rebecca Henely
A former Wyckoff Heights Medical Center chief financial officer is suing the medical center to obtain severance pay, saying he had nothing to do with an account set up to bribe late state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, according to court documents.
Judge Elaine Slobod, of Orange County Supreme Court in upstate New York, granted partial summary judgment March 12 for Wah-chung Hsu, who once lived in the hamlet of Highland Mills, saying in court documents that Wyckoff was in breach of contract when it did not pay him severance after firing him.
Hsu, who now works for Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was once the chief financial officer for Wyckoff and was fired in the wake of a corruption scandal surrounding Seminerio that landed the Richmond Hill Democrat in prison.
Seminerio had pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking more than $300,000 from Jamaica Hospital administrators to work on behalf of its interests in Albany, and died in January 2011 in the first year of serving a six-year prison sentence in North Carolina.
David Rosen, former chief executive officer of Medisys and Jamaica Hospital, was found guilty in September of ordering the company to pay off Seminerio and is awaiting sentencing in May.
Federal prosecutors had contended Seminerio took bribes from numerous city and state agencies through his phony consulting agency, Marc Consultants. Some October 2009 court documents said Marc Consultants received payments in 2000 and 2001 from an account named 397 Himrod, which was actually owned by Wyckoff, which is located in Bushwick and serves many Queens residents.
Dominick Gio, then chief executive officer of Wyckoff, had paid Seminerio out of the fund, the court documents said.
The 397 Himrod entity had originally been created by Wyckoff to buy real estate in Bushwick for a parking lot, although the corporation was later dissolved, the Orange County judge said in her decision.
Hsu had been fired after the scandal came to light, although Hsu said he had not been a signatory on the 397 Himrod account and did not know of it, Slobod said. Hsu’s contract for his $350,000 annual salary, which was signed in 2006, assured him of compensation for the following 18 months after his employment ended unless he was terminated for “legal wrongdoing,” Slobod said.
Wyckoff argued in response that “legal wrongdoing” was ambiguous and that Hsu should have learned of the corruption, but Slobod said Hsu had no way of knowing of the account and its use as a bribery tool.
Hsu had also pressed for reimbursement of his attorneys fees under the Labor Law, but Slobod said this only applies to non-executives. The judge said Hsu needs to prove the damages he is owed in future court appearances.
Seminerio was not the only elected official found to have been accepting bribes on behalf of a hospital executive.
Dr. Robert Aquino pleaded guilty in January of bribing former Brooklyn state Sen. Carl Kruger on behalf of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills. Kruger also pleaded guilty to the charge and both are awaiting sentencing. Aquino had maintained that the state closed down Parkway Hospital in 2008 because he had refused to pay the bribes demanded by Seminerio.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.