Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi will ask a Tulare County court on March 18 to reduce his $4.1 million bond to zero, according to documents drafted by his attorneys. Separately, officials from the Tulare County Prosecutor’s Office decided to freeze bank accounts in his name in Israel.
In August 2020, Benzeevi was charged with a litany of crimes related to actions taken while running the Tulare Regional Medical Center; in December 2020, Benzeevi was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after voluntarily returning to the United States from the Philippines.
Benzeevi managed the hospital through his company Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), which was hired by the local Tulare Health District to manage the Tulare Regional Medical Center.
Alan Germany, HCCA’s chief financial officer, and Bruce Greene — a BakerHostetler attorney who concurrently represented Benzeevi, HCCA and the district — were also named in the felony complaint against Benzeevi.
The three men were also arraigned again Tuesday on felony charges after the district attorney’s office updated their complaint against former hospital officials.
Benzeevi wants no bail
Benzeevi was the only one of the three to be forced to post bail, his lawyer said in a court filing.
“I understand that the District Attorney’s Office asked the court to set bail at this extraordinary amount only because Dr. Benzeevi was out of the country at the time the District Attorney’s Office finally filed a criminal complaint, and the district attorney’s office viewed him as a flight risk,” read a statement from his attorney McGregor Scott.
Court records show that Greene and Germany were both released without bond, and a press release from the district attorney’s office in August 2020 stated that “the charges in this case are not exempt from the zero bond schedule imposed by the tribunal”.
Given the differential, Scott writes in a filing, the $4.1 million bail is “unequal…excessive, punitive and utterly unnecessary,” since Benzeevi has shown he is “committed to fighting the prosecutor’s allegations of district” and “represents no threat to the community”. or the alleged victims in this case.
According to filings, Benzeevi currently resides in Southern California and his bail was paid in full by a family member. if reduced, the bail funds would be returned to the family member.
Court documents and filings separately show a deposit set up by Lucky Bail Bonds of Fresno and Allegheny Casualty Company of Calabasas.
“We will oppose the motion to lower bail,” Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos said. voice of the valley.
Benzeevi is here to stay, says lawyer
Benzeevi’s wife, children, and siblings all live in California, and he has called the state home since moving here when he was 16. Scott’s statement indicates that Benzeevi remained in Tulare County even after the Tulare Hospital was raided in 2017 and after his home was searched. in April 2018, “with the exception of a brief trip to Cambodia in December 2018”.
He traveled to the Philippines, “where he had lived with his family [when he was] a little child,” in March 2019 and traveled exclusively with his U.S. passport, even renewing it.
After the charges were filed in 2020, Benzeevi began making arrangements to travel to the United States and was in regular communication with the district attorney’s office, his attorney wrote, but was concerned about the patchwork of travel restrictions international organizations and statements from the district attorney’s office. that his passport had been cancelled.
“Dr. Benzeevi wanted to ensure that he would return directly to the United States and not be detained in a foreign country, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic,” the filing reads.
His US passport was delivered to the embassy in Manila, Philippines, Scott wrote, and he returned home with a special passport issued by the embassy; his Israeli passport is locked in a safe at Scott’s law office.
Bidentified bank accounts for freezes
As Benzeevi fights for a bail reduction, two Israeli bank accounts belonging to him have been frozen by the district attorney’s office, according to court documents from February 15.
While all of his accounts at Bank Leumi were previously frozen with an order in September 2021, that order only specified a wire transfer number and not specific account numbers. The new freeze specifically calls out two accounts at Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv, Israel; it comes after the district attorney’s office was in contact with Israeli and US Justice Department officials.
“The people have been in contact with the US DOJ and the Israeli authorities who have confirmed the correct bank account numbers. Israeli authorities have requested, through the US DOJ, that we provide an order showing the actual bank account numbers,” the filing reads.
As supporting evidence, the district attorney’s office provided receipts for several wire transfers to and from the accounts, including:
In a filing, the district attorney’s office called the activity “unusual and suspicious,” especially after Yorai Benzeevi knew he was under investigation and had previously fought asset seizures by the Tulare County District Attorney in 2018.
DOJ officials agreed, according to the filing.
“On February 10, 2022, I participated in a phone call with Emily Siedell, Department of Justice, Bureau of International Affairs,” wrote Dwayne Johnson, Assistant Investigator for the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. “Ms. Siedell has been in contact with the Israel Police and confirmed that Yorai Benzeevi had engaged in unusual banking activity through the [Bank Leumi].”
Charged under Amended Complaint
Additionally, the three defendants – Benzeevi, Germany and Greene – were arraigned Tuesday on a “second amended complaint.” All three pleaded not guilty, as they had done before.
The district attorney’s office filed the amended complaint against the trio after their attorneys launched an unsuccessful challenge, known as a demurrer, to have the charges thrown out of court, claiming the complaint was legally insufficient.
Their attorneys and the district attorney’s office exchanged documents for nearly a year before Tulare County Judge Michael Sheltzer ruled on the objection in November 2021.
He denied their attempt, but said the district attorney’s office “clearly had [had] some areas where [they] could “clean up” the complaint pleadings to provide a more detailed notice,” and wrote that they should “amend each special allegation relating to Defendant Benzeevi to reflect that he returned to the United States and on what date. .
Alavezos said the updated complaint reflected the judge’s request.
“The judge ruled in our favor on the objection in each count. However, he asked people if we would voluntarily provide more details on some of the charges. We agreed, the defendant agreed not to oppose the new complaint. This can be characterized by our office voluntarily providing more details in the complaint,” Alavezos told the Voice.
At the same time the second amended complaint was filed, the district attorney’s office told the court that they had reached a stipulation with the trio’s attorneys that they would not file another objection to the second amended complaint, ” in the interest of judicial economy”. before the laying of “an information, indictment or new [third] amended complaint.
Some repositories mentioned in this article are available through integrations. Others, including past documents Voice used in its reports, are available on our HCCA Criminal Trial Dockets page.