Report: Grand jury wants answers about temporary managers

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A federal grand jury that's looking into the nursing home industry in Oklahoma wants the Health Department to explain how temporary managers were chosen for nursing homes and how nearly two dozen homes were regulated, a published report says.

The Daily Oklahoman, in a copyright story in today's editions, said the grand jury also wants to know how officials with the Health Department influenced legislation on using temporary managers at nursing homes.

The grand jury's work is part of a federal and state investigation into the department and its oversight of the nursing home industry. The investigation began in 1996.

Details of the grand jury's focus are in a subpoena obtained by The Oklahoman. The newspaper said grand jurors are after phone records, personnel records and time sheets of fired Deputy Commissioner Brent VanMeter and other key department employees.

Van Meter, 46, was arrested May 2. He was charged the next day in Oklahoma City federal court with soliciting a bribe from a nursing home owner, and was fired May 4.

Among the allegations in the scandal is that favoritism was shown in the selection of temporary managers who are put in charge of troubled homes.

Jurors are demanding "all documents ... regarding legislation, the development of legislation, or proposals for new legislation involving the placing of temporary managers in charge of long-term care facilities."

Jurors want a list of the temporary managers, their applications and any denials, discipline or removals.

FBI agents seized documents "pertaining to legislation" and a temporary managers' list in a search of Van Meter's office May 2.

Agents also seized Van Meter's 1999 tax records, personal financial documents, legal documents, appointment books, investment statements, letters, a 1998 desk diary, computer disks and other documents.

Almost two dozen long-term care facilities are named in the grand jury subpoena, search warrants or FBI seizures lists.

Nursing home owners under investigation include E.W. "Dub" Jiles of Oklahoma City and his daughter, Deanna Beavers. Also under scrutiny are two brothers, John Smart and Jim Smart of Wewoka, the newspaper said.