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October 17, 2012

Hamilton County: Trinity Community Hospital case

Jasper — Robert A. Krasnow Jr.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Robert A. Krasnow Jr., 38, came before Circuit Judge Leandra G. Johnson (Lake City) in a Hamilton County courtroom to enter into a plea agreement with the State Attorney’s Office for his involvement in connection with the 2008 closure by federal authorities of Trinity Community Hospital (TCH) located at 506 NW 4th Street in Jasper.

In July of 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that investigators with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, FDLE, and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office arrested several people, including Robert A. Krasnow Jr. of Gainesville, who was the owner of TCH. That investigation uncovered that over $660,000 in state grant funds dedicated to hospital improvements were received by the corporation, but little if any of those funds were used to make such improvements.

The plea agreement stated that Krasnow Jr. pleaded guilty to racketeering and scheming to defraud, both first degree felonies, and that he would serve 36 months in Florida State Prison with credit for time served, as well as seven years probation, and pay restitution in the amount of $180,000 plus court costs. Additionally, during his supervision he is not allowed to work in the healthcare field, neither directly or indirectly.

If he satisfies all of his sentencing agreement and has not violated probation, he can apply for early termination of probation at the 42 month mark. Judge Johnson stressed that early termination of probation would not be considered at all unless all of the restitution money is paid. Additionally, if he violates probation the court could sentence him to the maximum allowed by law, which would be 30 years on each count.

Krasnow Jr. is currently serving time in Coleman Federal Prison for mortgage fraud and bribery or corruption of a federal official and was tried in Alachua County. He’s been incarcerated since January of this year and is set to be released in June 2013. His attorney asked the judge for a special consideration to allow Krasnow Jr. 90 days reprieve after being released from federal prison before being sent to state prison to serve his sentence in the racketeering and fraud case.

At first, Judge Johnson denied the request and asked if it was part of the plea agreement. It was then clarified that part of the plea agreement was just to be heard regarding the request.

“A prison sentence is a prison sentence, but I’ll hear you out,” Judge Johnson told Krasnow Jr.’s attorney.

The state was opposed to the request because it posed a flight risk and there was no procedurally correct way to allow Krasnow Jr. that reprieve between sentences.

Krasnow Jr.’s attorney presented what he said were positive behavior patterns since his client has been in federal prison, including gaining certificates of achievement in yoga, beginning Italian, anger management and drug abuse classes, as well as being a mentor for other inmates. His attorney also said he has a history of mental illness (ADHD, bipolar and post traumatic stress disorder) and substance abuse. Additionally, he has been taking classes in culinary arts so he will have job skills when he is released from prison.

“Mr. Krasnow is taking advantage of what’s been offered him in the prison system,” his attorney said.

The reasons for the request for a furlough between sentences varied from needing time to consult with a Gainesville doctor on mental health issues, seeking medical treatment from a specialist for back problems, seeing an optometrist for failing eyesight, start proceedings for bankruptcy, deal with the foreclosure of his family’s home, and issues with his five children, including immigration status on one child from his previous marriage. Also, his attorney said someone stole his identity and filed a tax return in his name and he needs to deal with that.

Judge Johnson asked to hear the facts regarding the victims in the case from the state.

The state’s attorney said, “This defendant just pled guilty to systematically defrauding the state of Florida over the course of six and a half years...by encouraging false hospital admissions of regular citizens of Hamilton County and the surrounding counties, mostly here in the Third Circuit, finding those patients, many of whom had some mental health problems, and getting doctors to admit them falsely into a hospital.”

He continued, stating, “The hospital that this man was managing and running with the assistance of the father, Robert T. Krasnow, was paid by the state of Florida a certain per diem. For every day a person was admitted to that hospital they received a certain amount of money and it varied over the course of the years.”

Rural hospital grants for capital improvements were also applied for, he said. One in particular was an $85,000 grant for a new roof. Funds were received by the Krasnow’s but a new roof was never put on the building. Other grant monies were diverted for personal use of the Krasnow’s.

The state’s attorney summarized saying Krasnow Jr. took money away from Florida’s most vulnerable people; the ones who truly do need medical treatment.

Judge Johnson accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Krasnow Jr. to 36 months in state prison on both counts of racketeering and scheming to defraud. They are to run concurrently and be followed by seven years probation. The request for a 90 day furlough between his release from federal prison and the beginning of his sentence in state prison was denied.

Special conditions of probation are that he must pay restitution to the agency for healthcare administration in the amount of $130,000 and $50,000 in restitution to the attorney general fraud control unit, plus court costs and fees. Upon his release from state prison after 36 months, he must do five job searches a week in order to find gainful employment at the highest level of occupation, since he has a college degree. Lastly, he must not participate directly or indirectly in the healthcare industry, including employment. His probation from the federal prison system will begin when he gets out of state probation and will run concurrently.

Krasnow Jr.,’s attorney asked that he be returned to Coleman as quickly as possible and not to be unnecessarily detained in the Hamilton County Jail.

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