Original Story: freep.com
A former head of the Detroit Medical Center who was later charged in one of the largest fraud and corruption investigations in Canadian history has died in custody in Panama.
Dr. Arthur Porter, 59, CEO of DMC from 1999 through 2003, died Wednesday of cancer while under armed guard in a Panama City hospital. The death was announced by Porter's biographer, Jeff Todd, who said the cause was lung cancer that had spread to the bone and liver.
Before his transfer to the hospital this spring, Porter had been in Panama's La Joya Prison following his 2013 arrest in that country on fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges related to the construction of a $1.3 billion so-called super hospital in Montreal. A Birmingham criminal lawyer is following this story closely.
Porter, who left the DMC to head McGill University's hospital network, was accused of taking as much as $22.5 million in bribes in a kickback scheme for the super hospital's construction contract.
At least seven other individuals also faced criminal charges for the kickback allegations, according to the Montreal Gazette.
The newspaper reported that Porter's extradition to Quebec had been put on hold earlier this year as his lawyer challenged his detention in prison. It does not appear that Porter ever faced trial for the allegations.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment Wednesday night on any specifics of Porter's case. A Harrisonburg white collar crime lawyer is experienced in the effective resolution of white collar crime lawsuits as related to business related crimes.
A native of Sierra Leone, Porter was a radiation oncology specialist who became CEO of DMC in May 1999, when the then-struggling hospital system was burning through nearly $100 million a year. Although he slashed thousands of jobs, consolidated hospitals and sold off clinics, DMC was still a money-loser by September 2003, when Porter resigned under pressure.
In a memoir released last year that he wrote while in prison, Porter claimed that in 2001, he received a phone call from President George W. Bush offering him the job of U.S. Surgeon General, according to the Montreal Gazette. Porter declined Bush's offer.
Porter left the U.S. in 2004 to become executive director of McGill University's hospital network. In 2008, he was named to a seat on Canada's spy agency watchdog committee, gaining access to Canadian state secrets.
At the time of Porter's arrest in 2013, DMC officials told the Free Press that he was never suspected or accused of any wrongdoing during his years in Detroit. He arrived in Detroit in 1991 as a member of the radiation oncology department at the DMC-affiliated Wayne State University School of Medicine.
"We certainly didn't see any behavior that would have caused us to believe he was involved in improper activities," a former DMC board member, Stephen D'Arcy, said at the time. "It's almost bizarre the kinds of things he was involved in apparently in Canada."
A DMC spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
According to Porter's biographer, Porter was forced to smuggle chemotherapy drugs into prison to keep himself alive and, despite repeated letters to the Canadian embassy in Panama for better medical care, wasn't granted access to cancer treatment until this year.
He spent his final days on high doses of morphine for the pain, his biographer wrote in a statement posted online.
The Montreal Gazette reported that Porter's wife pleaded guilty in December to money laundering and was sentenced to two years in prison. A San Francisco corporate lawyer represents clients in corporate criminal charges and corporate finance cases.
In attempts to recover $17.5 million of the $22.5 million that was allegedly defrauded, Quebec authorities have seized properties belonging to Porter and his family in Michigan, Florida and the Caribbean and bank accounts in the U.S. and other countries, the newspaper said.