Former AZ agency boss: Hacienda investigation shouldn’t have ended
PHOENIX — The former director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security said he can’t understand why a criminal investigation into Hacienda HealthCare’s finances was terminated in 2017.
Tim Jeffries said that, in 2016, his agency conducted an audit of the 2014 finances of Hacienda HealthCare, the Phoenix facility where a woman in a vegetative state gave birth in December.
Phoenix police have said the 29-year-old San Carlos Apache Tribe member, incapacitated since she was 3, became pregnant after she was sexually assaulted at the long-term care facility.
Jeffries’ agency found more than $4 million in potentially erroneous or fraudulent billings to the state through the audit and launched a criminal investigation, he said.
“The criminal investigation should never should have been terminated. … So for the governor to state that in the past, and today, and continuing, they’re taking aggressive action to Hacienda, that’s a farce. That’s an abject failure of accountability,” Jeffries told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday.
Jeffries said he heard the case was dropped due to a lack of information, and according to the Arizona Republic, a court battle is continuing in an effort to force Hacienda to turn over financial records.
Gov. Doug Ducey forced Jeffries to resign in November 2016 due to his involvement in a number of scandals.
“If the governor had retained me … No. 1, there’d be a criminal investigation ongoing, if not prosecution already; No. 2, Hacienda would not have received more clients; No. 3, Hacienda clients would have ultimately been transferred; and No. 4, no later than mid- to late 2017, Hacienda would have been terminated as a vendor,” he said.
Jeffries said although his investigation had to do with finances, it was still a sign that there was a problem with the facility’s leadership.
He accused former Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons, who resigned on Jan. 7, of being “intemperate, belligerent and abusive” toward DES employees.
Jeffries said he believes Ducey needs to take accountability for the state’s failure to complete the investigation.
“To the family, to the San Carlos Apache community, to the developmental disability community, including social workers, absolutely, he should apologize, because this is under his watch,” he said.
Officials at Hacienda HealthCare announced Monday they have launched an internal review into the situation, led by former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.
The Phoenix Police Department is also conducting an investigation. They served a search warrant last week to obtain DNA from male Hacienda staffers.