The lawyer for two former state employees claims Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood purposely botched the Sanctuary Hospice House case for political gain.
Hood said he could not comment on personnel matters but denied that his actions were politically motivated.
Nevertheless, Irwin told the Daily Journal on Thursday that he believes his clients “were terminated for political reasons. The people that own and run the hospice up there are powerful and political people that, in my opinion, control Jim Hood.”
Hood, of Houston, admitted he’s from “up in God’s country” but called Irwin’s claims absurd.
Irwin said Hood botched the state’s case against Sanctuary by forcing the resignations of Scott, an investigator, and Harkins, a nurse practitioner in the medical fraud unit. They had spent nine months investigating the deaths of 11 hospice patients and presented the case to the grand jury last month.
The two allegedly were dismissed for prompting grand jury witnesses to take their stories to the press.
But Irwin said that isn’t true. He claims Scott and Harkins told witnesses not to go to the press and that Hood knew that. One of those witnesses, Willie Cox Bennett, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that no one coerced her to talk to the media. She said she did it on her own.
Irwin also claims that Hood knew nothing about the hospice house investigation – and never had met Scott and Harkins – until March 25, the first day of the grand jury hearings.
“Jim Hood didn’t know about this until the day of the grand jury,” Irwin said. “All he knew was that his friends were about to get smoked.”