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Battle Over Corrections Contract Has New Allegation

A high-stakes battle over multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Corrections took an ugly turn on Monday.

Lawyers representing MHM Correctional Services Inc. alleged in a court filing that a high-ranking DOC official may have been negotiating to get a job for a friend from Correctional Medical Services at the same time he recommended that the agency hire CMS.

Ken Fields, a spokesman for CMS, said the allegation was simply a ploy intended to get media coverage.

“This latest allegation is nothing more than a desperate PR stunt that is completely baseless,’’ said Fields in an e-mail.

CMS was chosen back in April to provide mental health services to South Florida prison inmates. But current vendor MHM has contested the bid, saying the department broke contracting and public records laws by negotiating with CMS in secret before announcing the St. Louis based company had won a contract worth more than $80 million over the next five years.

MHM has also filed a separate lawsuit against the Department of Corrections after finding out that the agency planned to bring on CMS on July 1 when the current contract with MHM expires.

Leon County Circuit Judge Frank Sheffield is expected to rule this week on whether to block the $6 million four-month purchase order the department approved in late May.

Chris Kise, an attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, filed a motion in circuit court on Monday that suggests that one reason CMS won the 4-month contract is because Dr. Sandeep Rahangdale, deputy secretary for health services, was trying to land a job for a friend with CMS.

Kise attached e-mails that show that Rahangdale asked CMS officials to send information to his personal e-mail account about salary range and requirements for a position. He states “I think I have the perfect fit for you and the state’’ in the e-mail.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections would not answer the allegation about Rahangdale, who makes $172,500 in his job with the agency. Rahangdale has been deputy secretary since Jan. 31, 2008.

But Fields, the spokesman for CMS, said that Kise and his legal team have been in possession of the Rahangdale e-mail for weeks.

“Until now and because they seek to avoid legal challenge, they have never raised this false allegation in any hearing related to this injunction or in their bid protest,’’ said Fields. “Instead they have chosen to wait until the hearings are concluded and to make the assertion in the media.’’

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