In January the FBI raided the offices of Americore Health, a health care company that manages rural hospitals, where James Biden, brother of former vice president candidate and current presidential candidate Joe Biden, was a major investor. Documents prepared as part of an ongoing lawsuit against Biden and his business partners, hedge fund managers Michael Lewitt and Amer Rustom, allege they are in violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and have committed fraud related to their investments in Americore and another company, Diverse Medical Management. The documents, prepared in March, were never submitted to the court and sources now say the lawsuit is headed for a settlement.
In the documents, Grant White, the former CEO of Americore, makes detailed allegations that Biden’s corrupt business practices helped drive his company into bankruptcy. White also alleges that Biden and Lewitt improperly took money meant for company operations and lined their own pockets. He further alleges that Biden failed to make good on promises that his political connections would deliver large investments from the Middle East.
A filing in federal bankruptcy court in February by the federal trustee, Paul A. Randolph, alleges White has “grossly mismanaged” his business; “has not operated the hospitals in a manner that is consistent with public safety”; and “improperly siphoned money from the Debtors for his personal benefit.” The court subsequently removed White as CEO of Americore by the court. In a lengthy missive to legal commentator Jonathan Turley’s blog in March, Michael Lewitt questioned White’s credibility at length.
However, White was prepared to submit a sworn declaration in the ongoing lawsuit against Biden and his business partners backing up his allegations. Further, he turned over a significant number of primary documents undergirding these claims that were reviewed for this article.
“[Biden told me] there’s not a single door in the country that we can’t open. So if I wanted to meet, you know, the head of Google, it’s a phone call,” White says. “He always represented himself as the fundraiser for his brother’s campaigns… he was the guy raising the money and so he knew everybody.”
According to White, James Biden, along with hedge fund managers Michael Lewitt and Amer Rustom, became enamored of Americore’s business model and approached White about investing in the company. They agreed to enter into business together on the promise that Biden and his partners would be able to deliver upwards of $30 million to invest in Americore.
Questions About a Loan Backed by Biden’s Vacation House
White says the big investment money never materialized. Not only that, as Americore struggled to keep the doors open at rural hospitals it owned, White alleges that Biden – who eventually had business cards declaring him a “principal” at the company – improperly diverted money from loans made to Americore for his own personal use. According to White, Biden approached him in January of 2018 and told him his Florida vacation home had been damaged in Hurricane Irma a few months prior, and his insurance would not cover the repairs.
Biden owns a six-bedroom vacation home on Keewaydin Island near Naples, Florida. His brother vacationed there when he was vice president. Biden spent $2.5 million purchasing the house in 2013, a questionable expense considering he would later be slapped with a lien by the IRS for failing to pay $589,000 in 2013 federal taxes. (In 2016, Biden tried sell the house for $5.9 million – it eventually sold in 2018, after sustaining hurricane damage, for $1.35 million.)
In addition to the damage sustained by the vacation home, White says Biden was deeply concerned about paying back a personal loan that was due, which was secured by the vacation house. He was worried about losing his vacation home, so he approached White. “There were financial challenges there and I’m an investment banker, so I was trying to help him figure out how to solve his problems … I’m a problem solver and I considered him a friend,” White says.
Personal Loans Allegedly Tied Up with Business Loans
At the same time, Americore was experiencing cash flow problems. White had taken out a series of “merchant cash advances” – easy to obtain, high interest business loans – to keep Americore operating. “I needed a short-term bridge [loan] and I didn’t feel like taking another MCA because they were burning a hole in my pocket,” White says. “So [Biden] made some phone calls and he basically agreed to get $2 million – but of that, a significant portion went to him.”
In his never-submitted legal declaration, White recounts the following:
In January of 2018 Lewitt arranged for his hedge fund to loan Americore $2 million as a bridge loan while we awaited the larger investment. Jim Biden directed me to loan him approximately $400,000 of this money for him to use to repay a past-due personal loan secured by his house in Florida. Subsequently, in additional bridge loans from Lewitt’s hedge fund, Biden took additional amounts totaling approximately $250,000. The approximately $650,000 was originally intended to be used for Americore working capital. Jim Biden promised that the approximately $650,000 would be paid back out of the multi-million investment coming from overseas that was imminent and certain. Jim Biden, however, has never repaid the approximately $650,000 to Americore, instead only paying back approximately $25,000. Americore has been charged forbearance fees and interest on this despite the fact that Biden took that money.
In March, Politico also reported that “a former Americore executive has told POLITICO that James Biden had more than half a million dollars transferred to him from the firm as a personal loan that has not yet been repaid.” According to White, in the paperwork filed in bankruptcy court, a line item listed under “Summary of Assets and Liabilities” in the amount of $650,000 represents the company’s outstanding loan to Biden.
Sources familiar with Americore say the personal loan Biden needed to pay back was to Joey Langston, whon he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Langston is a lawyer and businessman who previously raised money for Joe Biden. In 2008, Langston pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe a state judge in Mississippi, a crime for which he served nearly three years in prison and was disbarred. The bribery charge was related to Langston’s work as a criminal defense attorney for the infamous lawyer Dickie Scruggs, who eventually did prison time himself.
Scruggs was famous for his work obtaining a $248 billion tobacco settlement on behalf of several states in 1998 – Scruggs’ cut of the settlement was was somewhere around $300 million. According to Curtis Wilkie’s book on Scruggs, The Fall of the House of Zeus, Scruggs retained James Biden’s lobbying outfit, the Lion Hall Group, to lobby for passage of legislation related to the settlement in the Senate, to help secure the support of Joe Biden, who was key to the legislation’s passage. Joe Biden supported the legislation, though it did not pass.
Mixing Politics and Private Gain
Despite the bribery charge, James Biden later went into business with Langston – both were affiliated with a company called Trina Healthcare that promised a new treatment for diabetes. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stopped paying for Trina’s diabetes treatment in 2009, citing evidence that it wasn’t effective.
Last year, the founder of Trina Healthcare, G. Ford Gilbert, also pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to an attempt to force passage of a bill in the Alabama legislature that would require the state to pay for the company’s diabetes treatment. Asked to confirm that Langston was the source of Biden’s loan, White wouldn’t confirm or deny Langston was the source of the loan Biden wanted to pay back. Langston did not return a request for comment.
However, a report by ProPublica in February confirms that Biden has an extensive history of taking out sizable personal loans from friends and business associates, and many of these generous lenders have political ties to his brother. Among those lenders was John Hynansky, a Ukrainian-American businessman and donor to Joe Biden’s campaigns, who in 2015 gave Biden a $500,000 loan that “came as Biden’s brother faced financial difficulties related to his acquisition of a multimillion-dollar vacation home,” according to Politico.
According to White, Biden was not the only one laundering money through Americore. In his declaration submitted to the court, which can be read here and here, White says Biden’s business partner Michael Lewitt was taking money from the hedge fund he managed and giving it to himself, using Americore as a pass-through:
On more than one occasion, Michael Lewitt directed his hedge fund to loan Americore money for his own personal use. On approximately April 18th of 2019, Michael Lewitt directed his hedge fund to loan $960,000 to Americore’s payroll account. He then directed me to pay him $950,000 via wire from the Americore account to Lewitt’s personal bank account. The money transferred on April 22, 2019. Lewitt told me he needed $950,000 so he could pay his personal IRS tax lien.
To buttress these allegations, White submitted a copy of a wire transfer in the amount of $950,000 dated April 19 of last year. A source close to Lewitt disputes this allegation. The source says that although the wire transfer went to Lewitt personally, it was to pay back a loan from Lewitt’s hedge fund, and further, Lewitt hasn’t had any tax liens in the last few years.
While White says he tolerated Biden and Lewitt’s unusual financial arrangements because he wanted to help out friends, the other reason Biden and Lewitt’s alleged skimming didn’t trouble him was that he believed Biden’s promises that he would raise much larger sums for Americore, and strung him along with repeated promises that tens of millions of dollars in investment money would arrive imminently.
White says he had almost no role in these efforts to raise money overseas. A lawsuit filed last year by Tennessee businessman Michael Frey and Dr. Mohannad Azzam, owners of Diverse Medical Management, against James Biden, and involving Americore, confirms that Biden and Lewitt also promised them that they would raise money from Qatar and a large Turkish concern, Dogan Holdings.
Despite the promise to raise an initial $30 million for Americore and much more later, White says the money for Americore never materialized. Among the reasons White was told that money didn’t come through: their investors ran afoul of Trump administration sanctions on foreign businesses.
“[Trump] put some stuff in place where it became incredibly difficult to get money from places like Qatar because they were doing business with Iran,” he says. A source close to Lewitt flatly denies that sanctions were ever a fundraising issue for Lewitt and Biden calling them “nonsense.”
Potentially Pitching to Chinese Financiers
There was, however, one notable instance where White says he did assist in raising funds for Americore. White he flew to New York and briefed James Biden and Joe Biden’s son Hunter on Americore’s business model. “Hunter wanted to hear my story cause you were going to go pitch it to its Chinese partners that he was working for,” White says. He also confirms that James and Hunter frequently worked together. “They were definitely attached at the hip in some things,” White says. White also makes a passing reference to this episode in the court filing: “I also met Hunter Biden, who was trying to arrange financing from China.”
Hunter Biden has been facing accusations that he exploited his father’s political connections for profit, specifically that he raised large sums for his hedge fund from Chinese investors after he accompanied his father on a trip to China while the latter was vice-president. In a New Yorker profile last year, Hunter Biden also admitted to taking what appears to be an $80,000 bribe from a Chinese businessman with close ties to the government.
Neither Michael Lewitt or a representative for Hunter Biden would comment on White’s accusations. A lawyer for James Biden said he could not comment on the accusations owing to laws in Tennessee, where the lawsuit originated, that limit what attorneys can say about ongoing litigation.
White strongly disputes the charges of mismanagement against him and says the paper trail left by Americore’s bankruptcy will show that Biden and Lewitt played a disproportionate role running the company into the ground and that he has taken minimal compensation during his tenure leading the company. He also alleges that the only reason he had to declare bankruptcy for Americore was that Michael Lewitt improperly gained access to the company’s accounts and took money for himself.
To that end, White has provided additional documentation showing tens of thousands of dollars of bank transfers between one of Americore’s hospitals and an account set up for Lewitt’s hedge fund, known as Third Friday Fund. White alleges that Lewitt continued to raid funds even after was he was notified the company was in Chapter 11.
“I’ve been stuck in the hospital business paying massive overheads with no money and surviving for two and a half years,” he says. “And I’ve never really been able to implement the [business] model. It’s very frustrating.” A source close to Lewitt again denies the allegation he improperly accessed Americore’s accounts and wrongly took money from the company.
Of Course, Lawsuits Filed
The legal declaration that was the source of White’s allegations were prepared as part of lawsuit originally filed last year by Tennessee businessman Michael Frey and his partner Dr. Mohannad Azzam, owners of Diverse Medical Management and Azzam Medical Services. Frey and Azzam’s allegations closely mirror many of White’s allegations – they also claim they were being strung along with promises of large sums of money from Biden and Lewitt to acquire their health-care businesses that never materialized. The lawsuit further alleges Frey and Azzam were pushed to take out loans and expand their business operations.
They made these investments with their own money, on the assurance that they would be paid back when Biden helped secure investments from Middle Eastern investors. Eventually, Frey and Azzam became overextended and their dire financial situation forced them to file suit against Biden and his partners.
According to a December report from Knox News, the FBI is investigating an incident where Frey received an envelope containing “what appeared to be blood-stained currency from a Middle Eastern country commonly known as a haven for terror groups and a ‘torture ticket’ — a voucher for the infliction of torture.” The newspaper withheld the name of the Middle Eastern country at the FBI’s request.
Along with Biden, Lewitt, and Rustom, White was originally a defendant in Frey’s lawsuit. White has reportedly presented detailed evidence of Biden and Lewitt’s mismanagement of Americore to Frey and his legal team, who found it convincing and asked that White be removed as a defendant.
“White has provided to Plaintiffs voluminous electronic evidence exonerating him in this Action and demonstrating that he too was a victim of the fraudulent actions of Defendants James Biden, Amer Rustom, Michael Lewitt, and Platinum Group USA, Inc., including documents indicating that millions of dollars in funds may have been taken by these defendants outside of the ordinary course of business,” notes a February court filing from Frey and his attorney.
Alleged Violations of Racketeering Law
Following that development, however, Frey and Azzam’s lawsuit has stalled, even though Frey and Azzam’s attorneys prepared a new filing that was never submitted to the court, which was reviewed for this article and can be read here. The filing incorporates White’s allegations, along with the supporting documentation he provided, as well as multiple heated communications from Lewitt that they allege are inappropriately threatening. The filing alleges that the cumulative behavior of Biden and his partners constitutes a violation of RICO statutes:
The Investor Defendants participated in the operation and management of an association-in-fact enterprise whose aim was to enrich themselves with foreign investment under the guise of investing in companies based in the United States, including but not limited to Plaintiffs and Americore. The Enterprise was formed for the common purpose of skimming investment into target companies through fraudulent loans and wires or ostensibly legal consulting fees. The Enterprise constituted an unlawful and continuing enterprise that has driven at least two companies into dire financial straits or bankruptcy.
Other allegations in the filing against Biden and his partners include common law and promissory fraud, civil conspiracy, and tortious interference with business relationships. A source close to Frey says recent financial pressures are one reason the filing making these allegations was never filed and Frey and Azzam are now trying negotiate a settlement in the lawsuit. Frey and Azzam’s company, Diverse Medical Management, does extensive work in nursing homes and the company has suffered serious financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.