Another day, another scandal involving a Massachusetts State Employee. This time it involves the late Leo Villani, who stole almost $3.4 million from the UMass Medical School over the past five years.
An ongoing investigation shows that he managed to set up a dummy corporation and funneled bogus payments through Medicare to this company which he then used to live extravagantly.
This is just the latest of various scandals which have hit Governor Deval Patrick’s administration in the last few years, including that of Annie Dookhan, a chemist at the now closed Department of Public Health Crime Lab in Jamaica plain who ignored protocols in drug testing, freeing thousands of convicted criminals. There have also been numerous cases of welfare fraud by both recipients and vendors in the past three years.
In this latest case, questions are being raised as to how Villani was able to get away with it for so long, only being caught after his death when an auditor was called in to review his work. Villani made no secret of his lavish lifestyle, driving a Porsche, building a lavish home and Salvador Dali paintings. When asked he would respond he inherited the money. Should this lifestyle have raised some red flags at UMass or somewhere in the administration?
There has still been no comment from the Governor or Attorney General as to what, if any action will be taken. If past history is any indication the Governor who is serving out his last term, will not have any comment. In the past after each incident whether welfare fraud, pension abuse, theft from state coffers or the wrong doing at the State Crime Lab he has always given different versions of the same answers, “This is an isolated case.” The question arises how many isolated cases does it take before it is a trend?
As for Attorney General Martha Coakley, it will remain to be seen if she makes any comment. She is set to announce her candidacy for Governor tomorrow which puts her in a tough position. If she acknowledges there is a problem then potential voters will ask why she didn’t do anything as Attorney General. If she says nothing or dismisses it as an isolated incident, she will be confronted by her Republican opponent who should point out the pattern of abuse.
In a state where residents pay the eighth highest taxes in the US one would think those in charge would pay more attention to where there money is going. Yet in this Democrat controlled state, each time the Republicans call for investigations or reform they are rejected or only very watered down versions of reform type bills are passed.
The upcoming gubernatorial election will be one in which we will see if people are really serious about reform and oversight in Massachusetts.
Written By: Paul Roy