Aspen hospital’s Jellinek resigns
September 12, 2008
ASPEN ” John Jellinek, a board member for Aspen Valley Hospital since 2002, the board’s treasurer and one of those credited with saving the hospital from financial ruin, resigned his seat Thursday in the wake of a series of accusatory stories in a local newspaper.
In a telephone interview, Jellinek said he has hired an attorney to monitor the situation.
But he would not say whether he is contemplating legal action against the Aspen Daily News, which has published two articles critical of his financial dealings in general and accusing him of using his position as a board member to solicit loans and other financial considerations.
In a separate phone interview, AVH CEO David Ressler said that he is certain that the hospital’s finances have not been affected by Jellinek’s personal financial battles, which were detailed in the articles.
“The allegations,” Ressler said, “don’t really have any bearing on our financial condition.” He said the hospital has fiscal policies in place that “don’t allow the hospital to be compromised by any individual,” and that prevent the moving of accounts or the outlay of cash without proper authorization.
“And, I want to point out, John Jellinek advocated for those processes,” Ressler said.
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In stories published on Sept. 10 and 11, the Daily News has portrayed Jellinek as peddling his influence as the hospital board’s treasurer in exchange for preferential treatment concerning loans and other financial favors.
Jellinek has denied any misconduct. But he sent a letter of resignation to the board’s chairman, local developer John Sarpa, shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday.
In the letter, Jellinek referred to “this terrible personal attack on us” and stated that “these painful and distasteful smears at myself as well as Jane [his wife] cannot continue.”
In his parting comment of the letter to Sarpa, he declared, “I helped save the Hospital and I hope this action will help you and the rest of the board members refocus on the tasks at hand.”
Jellinek, a 16-year valley resident, businessman and investor, was first elected in 2002 at a time when the hospital was reeling in debt and teetering on the brink of fiscal collapse following years of bad management.
Sarpa, board president, said Thursday in a prepared statement, “John brought a vast amount of knowledge and experience from the business world and the healthcare industry in particular to our organization. I think I speak for the entire Board and Administration when I say that we are very appreciative of his service.”
Jellinek did not respond in his letter to any of the information or accusations in the articles, through he indicated he feels the stories grew out of earlier conflicts he has had with two people in particular.
He confirmed in an interview that one of the principal sources in the Daily News stories, former U.S. Bank President Jaylene Park, now works with another source in the stories, venture capitalist Rick Crandall. The two are both named on the “Our Team” page of the website of Aspen Partners, an investment counseling firm.
Crandall, who reportedly has been involved with Jellinek in numerous ventures, was reported to have threatened Jellinek with legal action over business deals gone bad. Jellinek argued that Park may have been influenced by Crandall’s hostility toward Jellinek, as a motive for making the accusations.
As for the newspaper’s allegation that Jellinek peddled his influence with local banks, offering to move the hospital’s investment funds to banks that gave him loans or other considerations, Jellinek “denies he has done that,” said his friend, attorney and former hospital board candidate David Missner.
“He has not peddled his alleged influence to anybody,” Missner emphasized.
Jellinek, asked to characterize the situation, said that the Aspen Daily News “took it upon themselves, at the urging of others, to destroy my reputation in the community. I don’t own a newspaper, so there’s no way for me to defend myself.”
Jellinek’s term on the board does not end until 2010, and the board has 60 days to appoint a replacement or make other arrangements to fill his seat.