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Ohio auditor's office opens investigation into MetroHealth CEO bonus scandal

Akram Boutros Ideas 2018 copy.jpg
Ideastream Public Media
Jason Bristol, the lawyer representing Dr. Akram Boutros, said that MetroHealth acted in bad faith and violated the public trust in firing Boutros. The hospital board called Boutros' second lawsuit "another attempt to rewrite history.”

The Ohio auditor's office has opened an investigation into bonuses paid to former MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros, a spokesperson for the state agency confirmed Tuesday.

The office's Special Investigative Unit (SIU) is looking into the nearly $2 million in bonus payments made to Boutros between 2018 and 2022, which the hospital board says were unauthorized.

Since late November, MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County's safety-net hospital, and Boutros have been embroiled in a public dispute over the bonuses.

The hospital board fired Boutros after an investigation conducted by lawyer John McCaffrey of the Tucker Ellis law firm determined that Boutros could face criminal charges for Ohio ethics violations and theft in office over the bonuses.

Boutros has denied wrongdoing and filed two lawsuits against MetroHealth's board, alleging breach of contract, defamation, retaliation and intimidation in firing him.

Boutros' attorney Jason Bristol said in an email he believes the auditor’s office is simply taking the lead on reviewing the matter on behalf of other interested agencies, including the county prosecutor’s office and the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley said earlier he had been in touch with the ethics commission to review the matter and documents released by MetroHealth indicate Boutros had also notified the commission.

MetroHealth has also authorized an outside firm to review the policies and procedures surrounding the bonuses.

Taylor Wizner is a health reporter with Ideastream Public Media.