University Medical Board CEO on Leave

March 22, 2019

The University of Maryland Medical System placed CEO Robert A. Chrencik on leave Thursday amid allegations that the system's Board of Directors spent half a million dollars buying self-published children's books by another board member who has since resigned.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the board voted to submit to an independent review of the system’s contracting practices after The Baltimore Sun reported that nine board members have business deals with the hospital network worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars apiece. Since the story ran, three board members, including Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh, have resigned. Four others have taken leaves of absence.

Pugh resigned from the board Monday after the Sun reported that she had sold 100,000 copies of her children’s book series to the medical system for $500,000. Baltimore school officials acknowledged that 8,700 copies of the books are sitting unread in a warehouse.

The announcement of Chrencik’s leave followed a closed-door meeting Wednesday in Annapolis, during which Maryland Senate president Thomas V. Miller said he and Governor Larry Hogan repeatedly pressed Chrencik over who authorized the $500,000 deal for Pugh’s self-published books. Miller said Thursday that Chrencik would not give the men a straight answer, the Sun reported.

Pugh said she paid taxes on the book sales and called inquiries a "witch hunt."

Chrencik, who is paid more than $4.2 million a year, will take a leave of absence beginning Monday. He will continue to be paid while on leave, a spokesman said. John Ashworth, a senior vice president, will act as interim CEO.

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