I-Team: Regents accused of violating open meeting law

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A complaint filed with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office has accused four University Regents of violating the state’s open meeting law.

The I-Team revealed that the first alleged meeting occurred earlier in May and is related to ongoing turmoil involving a shocking audit of UNR’s medical school.

Fewer than two dozen university officials were allowed to see the results of the confidential audit conducted in 2016.

It’s no wonder UNR didn’t want an audit. It uncovered evidence of massive billing problems and lack of oversight at the medical practice UNR operated in southern Nevada for years. Internal emails show that UNLV Medical School officials wanted to report allegations of outright fraud to federal authorities but were told by UNR to butt out. University staffers have been told by lawyers they can’t say anything.

“I can say I can’t talk about it, but I can say we did an audit, so we can take over the practice,” said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, Dean of UNLV Medical School.

After the I-Team revealed some of the audit results, federal officials contacted UNR to demand more information about overbilling. UNR confirms it already had to repay around $129,000 for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid. More payments could be in the future.

None of this has ever been discussed by the board of regents, or rather, it’s never been discussed in an open meeting. That does not come as a surprise to some UNLV donors.

“They don’t want any meetings face to face. They clearly have meetings among themselves, which I think is a violation of the open meeting law,” said Kris Englestad McGarry, philanthropist.

UNLV supporters and staffers have long whispered that an activist group of four or five regents controls the board, and routinely makes policy decisions behind closed doors, excluding even other regents on the 13-member board.

Now, the I-Team has learned, a formal complaint about one such meeting has been filed with the Nevada Attorney General. The complaint alleges the violation occurred following a special meeting of the board back on May 4.

Eyewitnesses say that when the official meeting ended, a group of four regents met in secrecy — two in person and two by phone. The complaint identifies the four as Chairman Kevin Page, Vice Chair Jason Geddes, former Chair Rick Trachok and Regent Mark Doubrava.

They allegedly discussed ways to move money out of some UNLV budgets in order to fund the construction of the UNLV medical school building.

It would be illegal for four regents to meet to discuss official business, so did it happen? The I-Team called all four to ask. Page, Geddes and Doubrava never returned our calls. Rick Trachok told us, he’s not aware of any such meeting and that he wasn’t a part of it. It will be up to the attorney general’s office to determine if the allegation can be proven.

The full details included in the complaint are not yet public but will be released if, or when, the attorney general rules there is enough evidence to proceed.  8 News NOW will have more details as they become available.

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