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Steven J. Klearman
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Nevada Hospital Managers Face Theft Charges

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Two managers at Clark County’s financially struggling public hospital face criminal charges on accusations of bilking taxpayers out of thousands of dollars by stealing materials and enlisting hospital employees for their personal use, according to court documents.

Tony Cook, writing for the Las Vegas Sun yesterday, writes that Christopher Roth, an associate administrator of support services who resigned in June 2006, and Thomas Hutchison, an acting director of University Medical Center’s facilities maintenance section who resigned in April 2007, face theft and other charges in a 20-count criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas Township Justice Court.

Two lower-level employees in UMC’s facilities department – Sime Perkov and Peter Panagos – also face charges.

The complaint alleges that Hutchison stole $500 worth of UMC paint to use on an outbuilding on his personal property. He also is accused of stealing a $399 designer toilet, an $8,000 commercial grade compressor and at least $2,500 worth of cabinets from the hospital.

The complaint also alleges that he enlisted hospital employees, while they were on county time, to craft countertops, fashion cabinets, make signs and refurbish an antique gasoline pump. Much of the employees’ efforts benefited Hutchison’s personal residence, the complaint claims.

Hutchison also is accused of taking $761.61 worth of materials purchased by UMC and exchanging them at a Lowe’s home improvement store for gift cards for personal use, the complaint says.

Roth also is accused of using employees and stealing materials. He allegedly had employees make signs and construct air conditioning units for his personal businesses, including an air conditioning school that he ran on the side, according to the complaint.

He also stole two patio heaters, valued at $600, and condensing and evaporator units that UMC had purchased, the complaint says.

Perkov is accused of stealing cabinets purchased by UMC and constructing air conditioning units for Roth’s school while being paid by UMC.

Panagos also is accused of constructing air conditioners for Roth.

All the actions cited in the complaint allegedly occurred from January 2004 to March 2007.

If the allegations are true, some of crimes at the hospital were occurring even after it had been reported that UMC Chief Executive Lacy Thomas was under investigation for allegedly steering contracts to friends in Chicago. District Attorney David Roger is considering whether to charge Thomas.

The investigation of Thomas and the allegations against those in UMC’s facilities department are unrelated, police said.

Clark County officials said they are taking the “appropriate personnel action” with Perkov and Panagos, who are still employed at the hospital. County spokesman Dan Kulin would not elaborate.

“This kind of behavior is reprehensible,” he said in a statement. “It’s simply intolerable and it represents a serious violation of the public trust. We are encouraging prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

The county also plans to launch an internal investigation, Kulin said.

The hospital has instituted several operational changes, Kulin said, including tighter controls on storage areas, purchases and the use of materials.

“For example, there are now surveillance cameras in and around the stockroom and additional documentation is required when materials are removed from the stockroom,” he said.

“Management is also conducting periodic audits of completed projects. Our internal investigation could lead to additional operational improvements.”

All four defendants are scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 18th.

Tony Cook can be reached at 259-2320 or at http://tony.cook@lasvegassun.com