38 Studios’ Wistow Named Special Counsel to Investigate St. Joseph Bankruptcy

Saturday, September 09, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Max Wistow
UPDATED: Max Wistow has been appointed Special Counsel in the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund bankruptcy at the request of receiver Stephan Del Sesto. Judge Brian Stern approved the request on Friday in an emergency status hearing at Superior Court.

In the hearing Stern also granted the receivers requests to continue the full funding of monthly pension payments to retirees through February 1, 2018. And, additionally, provided Del Sesto and thus, Wistow with full subpoena powers.

More than sixty retirees, lawyers for interested parties attended the hearing which was moved to a larger courtroom. Stern also asked to Del Sesto to create a committee which would include retirees to be included in the receivership and recovery of asset process. Stern also urged to, sooner rather than later, organize a "town hall" to present information to the nearly 3,000 impacted retirees who are now threatened with a 40 percent cut to their benefits.

Wistow had helped Rhode Island recover more than $60 million of the state's $75 million investment in 38 Studios.  He was appointed by then-Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Wistow tells GoLocal of the appointment, “Literally, thousands of people have been adversely impacted by this bankruptcy. This is a complex case and I am very interested to look into this.”

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, issued a statement in support of the appointment of Wistow. “I am very pleased that Max Wistow has been named special counsel in the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund case. Mr. Wistow has a tremendous reputation as one of the finest legal minds in the state. His ability to delve into complex financial issues, and his impressive legal acumen, led to the recovery of millions of taxpayer dollars in the 38 Studios case," said Ruggerio.

"I am very concerned for the thousands of pensioners impacted by the failure of this fund. The appointment of Mr. Wistow means that the beneficiaries can be assured that every aspect of the sudden deterioration of the pension fund will be thoroughly examined, and every avenue for remedy under the law will be brought to bear,” he added

On August 17, the board of the St. Joseph pension fund filed for bankruptcy. The fund was orphaned when CharterCARE purchased the related hospital, but under the agreement, the pension fund was left as a separate company and was not assumed by CharterCARE. In the sale, CharterCARE made a $14 million contribution to the fund and RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin approved the deal under the RI Hospital Conversion Act.

"The case is about basic morality. Loyal employees worked for years and were promised and dependent on their employers for their retirement. Employers should be held accountable," added Wistow.

Receiver, Stephan Del Sesto
Who, What Wistow Will Focus On

While it is unknown how the case will progress, GoLocal found significant discrepancies in two areas of focus. One was the failure of the Diocese of Providence to make pension payments to the fund when it controlled the hospital. Second, areas of concern is if the Attorney General fulfilled his responsibilities in reviewing the sale of St. Joseph to CharterCARE under the Hospital Conversion Act.

As previously reported, there appears to be plenty of blame to go around. “This is a matter of a tremendous breach of duty on every level to those folks who worked for so long at the hospital and had an expectation as retirees that they would receive their retirement funds,” said former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet, in an interview with GoLocalProv.com.

"This fund presently has the resources to last maybe ten years, but it needs to support retirees for 40 to 45 years," said Del Sesto.

Violet raised further questions about the role of Peter Kilmartin, Rhode Island's current Attorney General. Under the Hospital Conversion Act, the Attorney General is required to review the financial viability and impact of the transaction.

"The retirees had no idea there were any issues with the viability of the fund until it filed for bankruptcy," said Del Sesto. "There were a number of entities that had a responsibility, including the Attorney General."

Peter Kilmartin, photo with Gina Raimondo
According to Del Sesto, as of this week, he still had not met with Kilmartin.

AG's Responsibilities 

The Hospital Conversion law is very specific to the responsibilities of Kilmartin and his office, stating, “The department of attorney general [is] to preserve and protect public and charitable assets in reviewing both hospital conversions which involve for-profit corporations and hospital conversions which include only not-for-profit corporations.”

At the time of the agreement in 2014, Kilmartin said, “The transacting parties have worked diligently to provide regulators with the necessary documentation and information throughout this review process to make this decision, a decision I believe is in the best interest of Rhode Island’s healthcare marketplace, the community, the employees, and most importantly, the patients.”

Kilmartin said in his statement, “Conducting a hospital conversion review requires the commitment of a substantial amount of resources for the Office of Attorney General. I commend my staff for the time and careful consideration put into this review process.” 

  • Paul Morse: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    While many Rhode Islanders set out to make a difference in their communities in 2016, perhaps no one walked the walk -- or talked the talk -- more than East Providence's Paul Morse. 

    As GoLocal reported:

    East Providence's Paul Morse is encouraging Rhode Islanders to #BeTheChange by doing 30 good deeds for people in a 30 day stretch. 

    Morse also started a Facebook group so that others could contribute things that they are doing. The group is over 1,000 members. 

    GoLocalTV has more.

     
  • Alexandra Diaz: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    At first blush, it looked like it was going to be a story of everything wrong with youth sports, after an 18-year old played briefly in a pre-teen football game in Providence for 12 and 13 year olds. 

    The incident went national, culminating in late-night show host Conan O’Brien making it the punchline of a joke. However, Alexandra Diaz, the founder of the Capital City Buccaneers, the team who played the older teen, took action as soon as she discovered what happened — and fought to keep the other youth playing, and cheering, for the program, who had nothing to do with the incident, but initially faced a ban. 

    As GoLocal reported:

    The founder of Providence's Capital City Buccaneers is speaking out after a 18-year-old played in a pre-teen varsity football game -- and the entire team program, which includes other age groups and cheerleaders -- got banned from the league.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Max Wistow: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    The veteran Rhode Island lawyer has been behind the state's 38 Studios lawsuit  since 2012 -- and in 2016 the effort to recoup some of the taxpayers losses saw major headway. 

    As GoLocal reported in September:

    Curt Schilling, Thomas Zaccagnino, Richard Wester, Jennifer MacLean, and their insurer, Starr Indemnity and Liability Company, have agreed to a proposed $2.5 million settlement with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in the 38 Studios litigation. 

    The settlement was filed in Rhode Island Superior Court on Monday and is contingent upon court approval. 

    If the Court approves the settlement, the Corporation will have obtained settlements totaling approximately $45 million in the ongoing 38 Studios litigation, more than half of the state's $88 million moral obligation on 38 Studios bonds for both past and future appropriations.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Lauren Niedel: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    In a year where Progressive Democrats were on the move, Niedel was one of the driving forces behind the successful - if not surprising - Bernie Sanders effort in Rhode Island.  

    Niedel and her team deployed the tried-and-true tactics of grassroots organizing - and a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort that saw the Democratic establishment turned on its head come primary day.

    In April, Niedel outlined her strategy to GoLocal, when rallies were being planned in support of Sanders.  

    "Our rally is incorporating The Democracy Spring events that are taking place across the US. It is specifically geared to energize Bernie Sanders Base in RI. We will be focusing on the GOTV effort. For Bernie to win we have to knock on more doors and make more calls than the Clinton campaign - and through this rally not only will it be an amazing time, but we will also capture that energy and enthusiasm as a call to action for our GOTV effort," said Niedel. 

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • The Speidels: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    While Providence has seen a number of new highly acclaimed restaurants open in the last several years (Birch and Oberlin, Milk Money, to name a few), it’s not every day you get a five-time regional James Beard “Best Chef” nominee opening up shop.

    But Champe Speidel along with his wife Lisa upped the Providence food game when they bought the building on Hope Street that had formerly (and famously) housed the Rue de l’Espoir.  And they brought with it the established Persimmon from Bristol, which had scored two national James Beard nods for excellence in service. 

    And patrons have weighed in to sing their praises as well, giving the East Side restaurant, giving the Speidels an average of over 4.5 stars out of 5 for over 140 reviews.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Billy Gilman: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    He’s the Rhode Island wonder boy that could, that made us believe in second acts.

    After starting off as a child star, Gilman’s journey in the music world took him to The Voice this year, where he finished second in the wildly popular reality music show.

    Gilman was born in Westerly in 1988, recording his first single, "One Voice," at 11 years old. "One Voice" became a top 20 hit on the Billboard country music charts making Gilman the youngest singer to have a top 40 hit on the country music charts. Later that year, he released an album, of the same name, on Epic Records, and it became certified double platinum in the U.S. 

    Gilman left Epic Records and signed with Image Entertainment in 2005 releasing "Everything and More," followed by the self titled album "Billy Gilman" in 2006.  After taking a break from music from 2009 to 2013, Gilman released a new single in 2014 titled "Say You Will.”

     
  • Harris and Steele: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    In a year in which the Providence Board of Licenses was front-and-center in city politics, given numerous episodes of violence and drugs at nightclubs, former Board chair Johanna Harris and community activist Sharon Steele were front and center in trying to hold the board accountable. 

    In September, former Attorney General Jeffrey Pine issued a scathing report on the protocol and procedures of the Board, which Harris and Steele have been consistently railing against. 

    As GoLocal reported in September:

    The Vault Lounge on Federal Hill, located in a building formerly owned by Congressman David Cicilline, and now by his brother John, got a total of a ten day closure by the Providence Board of Licenses (BOL) for a shooting outside the club in June. Now, Aqua Lounge on Broad Street is facing a thirty day closure after an August shooting on its premises — and the city solicitor is looking to pull its license altogether.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Jeff Grybowski: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    Deepwater Wind has been in the spotlight now for years — and this December, finally came online, under the direction of CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

    Grybowski, who had been a top staffer under then-Governor Don Carcieri, was the focus of a CBS News feature on Tuesday. 

    As GoLocal reported on December 13:

    After years of planning, regulatory hurdles, and construction Deepwater Wind is now online and producing energy.

    “Our success here is a testament to the hard work of hundreds of local workers who helped build this historic project, and to the Block Islanders and the thousands more around the U.S. who’ve supported us every step of the way of this amazing journey,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Dr. Rajiv Kumar: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    The Shape-Up RI founder has come a long way - and fortunately for Rhode Island, has come back to his roots

    From launching the successful workplace wellness program in Rhode Island over ten years ago, to growing it into a regional and now global healthcare leader, Kumar recently piqued the interest — and backing - of British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Pulse, who acquired Shape Up this past February. 

    READ THE REST OF THE STORY

     
  • Dorian Murray: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    No one may have had more of an impact in 2016 on Rhode Island — and the rest of the world — than 8 year old Dorian Murray.

    Murray, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the age of four, had wished to become famous -- and in the process inspired people around the globe with his courageous battle. Sports stars, music stars, television celebrities and more all posted photos to Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #DSTRONG.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Julie Lynn Cardinal: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    At the beginning of 2016, women were still not allowed to be full members of the Westerly Yacht Club.  

    And one woman - Julie Lynn Cardinal — with a very public pronouncement after a vote upheld the males-only policy, helped to change that.  As GoLocal reported: 

    The club, which was officially formed in 1928, allows women to take part in club activities and hold leadership positions, but voted again Thursday night to maintain the males-only membership status quo.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Steve Frias: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    The hottest race in 2016 in Rhode Island was undeniably the contest between Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello and Republican challenger Steve Frias in District 15 in Cranston.

    The Republicans went all in on Frias, in an effort to knock out the most powerful Democrat — and elected official — in state politics.   And Frias used the opportunity to push a number of issues — from pressing the Speaker on his position on then-Representative John Carnevale (when he was found not to live where he said he lived), to pushing for a line item veto, to keeping 38 Studios front and center when Governor Raimondo continued to refuse to direct the State Police to release the interview documents, and more. 

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Benros, Arffa, Forbes, and Martin: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    Rosinha Benros, Phyllis Arffa, Lee Forbes, and Deena Martin had all owned restaurants at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket — and all went out of business at the hands of developer and landlord Lance Robbins. 

    So when the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation announced this fall that Robbins’ Urban Smart Growth would be getting $3.6 million in tax credits to expand loft construction at the location, they decided they were not going to be silent.

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Stefan Pryor: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    He was everywhere in 2016 in Rhode Island - from large deals to big controversies, and oftentimes in places somewhere in between.  If big business decisions were being made that involved state investment - and state taxpayer dollars — Pryor was there alongside the Governor making the announcements. 

    Pryor, the Secretary of Commerce, had touted the unveiling of the $5 million tourism campaign that quickly fell into chaos when footage of Iceland was found used in the video; multiple errors were found on the website, and Tourism Chief Betsy Wall was ousted from her position less than six months after coming on board (and a gag-order was issued to keep Commerce employees from talking about her departure afterwards — ouch).

    READ MORE HERE

     
  • Dylan Molloy: 16 Who Made a Difference in 2016

    Brown lacrosse star Dylan Molloy led the Bears to their first Final Four appearance since 1994 and then played the Final Four game against Maryland with a broken foot and scored two goals.

    Following the season, Molloy was named the winner of the Tewaaraton Award, recognizing him as the top men's college lacrosse player in the country. He is the first ever Brown player to win the award and only the third Ivy League player. 

    READ MORE HERE

     

X

Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email