Hos­pi­tal claims con­fis­cated wine cache

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

A Penn­syl­va­nia hos­pi­tal bat­tled state pros­e­cu­tors in a Har­ris­burg court last week in an at­tempt to lay claim to more than 1,400 bot­tles of con­fis­cated wine. A county judge will de­ter­mine whether the con­tra­band ends up go­ing down the hatch or down the drain.

Ch­ester County Hos­pi­tal wants the judge to give it the wine cache seized two years ago dur­ing a state po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion that ac­cused Paoli, Pa., lawyer Arthur Gold­man of skirt­ing Penn­syl­va­nia’s liquor laws by selling wine from his home.

Gold­man struck a deal Aug. 18 with the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice that al­lowed him to keep 1,047 of the 2,500 con­fis­cated bot­tles. Two days later, the not-for-profit West Ch­ester hos­pi­tal asked the court for pos­ses­sion of the re­main­ing bot­tles, cit­ing a 1935 pro­vi­sion of the State Liquor Code that per­mits judges to give seized booze to a hos­pi­tal “for its use.”

The hos­pi­tal would likely auc­tion the bot­tles as a fundraiser, ac­cord­ing to court records.

A pros­e­cu­tor for the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice dis­puted the hos­pi­tal’s lawyer’s claims that state liquor laws would al­low the in­sti­tu­tion to sell the wine. In a brief filed Sept. 1, Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Danielle Graham said “use” in that case could only mean medic­i­nal use, a throw­back to a time when al­co­hol was em­ployed as a med­i­cal treat­ment.

The top lawyer for the Penn­syl­va­nia Liquor Con­trol Board warned state pros­e­cu­tors that de­stroy­ing the wine would be point­less and waste­ful, and she urged of­fi­cials to let the hos­pi­tal have it. “Ul­ti­mately, the need­less de­struc­tion of this wine will not serve any mean­ing­ful pur­pose,” the Liquor Con­trol Board’s chief coun­sel, Faith Smith Diehl, wrote last year to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice stated that Ch­ester County Hos­pi­tal waited too long to in­volve it­self in the mat­ter. Pros­e­cu­tors also wor­ried that it would set a bad prece­dent.

The hos­pi­tal’s lawyer, Daw­son Muth, did not re­turn sev­eral mes­sages from the As­so­ci­ated Press seek­ing com­ment.

Penn­syl­va­nia’s at­tor­ney gen­eral says the hos­pi­tal is late to the party in mak­ing its claim.

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