Rauner Private Equity Co-Worker Takes the Stand in Seedy Nursing Home Trial

Edgar Jannotta Jr. testifies that he had no knowledge of the 2006 sale of Trans Healthcare to an elderly graphic artist.

One of the seediest, most Dateline NBC aspects of the Florida federal bankruptcy case involving Bruce Rauner's former private equity firm, a problem-plagued nursing home chain it had invested in and an alleged bust-out scheme to avoid responsibility for a string of resident deaths? 

Allegations that GTCR, the Chicago firm for which the Illinois governor candidate worked for three decades until retiring in 2012 to run for office, may have participated in tricking an elderly graphic designer into unwittingly signing papers to purchase the aforementioned nursing home chain—Trans Healthcare Inc.—in an apparent effort to deflect paying damages to victims' families.

But new testimony in the Tampa-based trial, which launched last week, presents GTCR as having no knowledge of the 2006 sale of Trans Healthcare to Barry Saacks, who previously testified that he did not remember ever making a deal to buy the ailing nursing home network.

The Trib quotes Rauner's ex-colleague Edgar Jannotta Jr., a defendant in the case along with GTCR and New York investors with whom it partnered in founding Trans Healthcare, as telling the court Monday that he would've "put the brakes on the deal" were he aware of Saacks' involvement.

Jannotta stated in previous testimony that he was blindsided by learning the chain had been sold to the business-unsavvy graphic artist—specifically, a purported shell company set up in his name.

Attorneys for Jannotta and GTCR argue that plaintiffs' lawyers are looking to win more money for their clients, hence the action to pull in the successful investment firm. They contend the firm was not responsible for any unseemly business decisions.

“We would have certainly put the brakes on the deal until we could have sorted out what was happening on the buyer side," declared Jannotta during cross-examination.

Meanwhile, the courtroom drama is taking a public relations toll on Republican Rauner's previously unstoppable campaign to defeat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in November's toss-up gubernatorial election. The candidate has denied having a major role in managing Trans Healthcare's business, proclaiming last week that GTCR would be exonerated from the accusations and shaking a finger at Team Quinn for stirring the pot.

"This is a destruction, a distraction from a failed governor who is creating a diversion away from his failure inside his administration," sniped Rauner.

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