MONROVIA — The former administrator of a Monrovia hospital has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to accepting $6,000 in kickbacks from two doctors to allow them to continue managing the hospital's emergency room.
Dennis Cheshire, 46, who was administrator of Monrovia Community Hospital in 1985 and 1986, also pleaded guilty Monday to filing a fraudulent income tax return because he did not report the $6,000 he received from the doctors, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian Hennigan.
Cheshire, who is now administrator of Los Angeles Doctors Hospital, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A receptionist in the hospital's administrative office said Cheshire was the only official authorized to comment on the plea or on his future employment at the hospital.
Ronald Nessim, Cheshire's attorney, said Tuesday that his client was approached by the two doctors shortly after he took over as administrator of the Monrovia hospital in 1985. The doctors, Nessim said, wanted Cheshire to ask the hospital's parent corporation, Paracelsus Health Corp., to extend their contract to manage the emergency room and increase their pay.
The doctors told Cheshire that he would "get something" in return for those pay raises, Nessim said. Cheshire received monthly payments of $1,000 for at least six months, he said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office could not provide the identities of the two doctors who provided the kickbacks and did not know whether they will be charged.
Cheshire did not deny accepting the money but said he spent it on parties to improve employee morale, his attorney said.
"He did not solicit the doctors, and he used the money for a good purpose," Nessim said. "His actions were mitigated by the fact that . . . he didn't take the money and put it in his pocket."
Monrovia Community Hospital officials referred all questions to Paracelsus Health Corp. Bob Joyner, the corporation's spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
Cheshire was prosecuted under a federal law prohibiting the acceptance of kickbacks by anyone employed in an organization that receives more than $10,000 a year in federal funds, Hennigan said. Monrovia Community Hospital receives more than $10,000 a year under the Medicare program.
Cheshire faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he returns to court for sentencing April 19.