Fired ECMC CEO says he was targeted for raising ethics questions

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Former ECMC CEO Richard Cleland, fired by the Erie County Medical Center’s board of directors, says his contract was violated after he raised ethics questions in the hospital. He is considering legal options against ECMC.

Cleland, now being represented by Buffalo attorney Dick Sullivan, says he was given one hour by ECMC board members to fire his Chief Operating Officer, Mary Hoffman, an action he refused to take.

“I didn’t feel it was justified,” said Cleland. “I think she’s done a great job. There’s been no issues with her performance.”

Cleland said he was also told he would have to accept a reduced leadership role by answering to then ECMC president Tom Quatroche, who now has taken over Cleland’s job.

And finally, he says he was reprimanded for flying to London with the Bills, even though he says he personally paid for the trip with his wife. He says he got permission from the Chairman of the Board to attend the London series game after he paid $8,000 out of pocket for the trip and tickets. .

“They basically said that if I did not agree to this they would use the London trip against me and terminate me for cause,” he said

ECMC will only say the board of directors voted unanimously to remove Cleland for cause.

But Cleland says the real reason he was fired is because he raised ethics questions.

“It’s gotten a lot of attention. I can’t tell you from where. But I feel I paid the ultimate price for bucking that system and that individual,” said Cleland.

News 4 sources say he questioned the role of ECMC General Counsel Anthony Colucci III, who is paid $460,000. There have been questions about how much legal business is channeled into his law firm, Colucci and Gallaher, and whether that business was put out for bid.

Cleland says his contract allows him to terminate the agreement with the hospital if his duties and responsibilities are reduced. He said he invoked that clause but then was fired.

Cleland says his contract provides for $1.2 million dollars in severance pay. He would not be entitled to severance for being fired “for cause.”

ECMC released a statement Friday afternoon saying:

“This issue is a personnel matter, and out of respect to all of the individuals involved and the hospital, we will not discuss this matter in public.  The hospital is on a strong financial and operational footing and we reiterate that our physicians, nurses and staff will continue to provide great care today and tomorrow.  Our focus is, and will remain, on the patients and the community we serve.”

Calls by News 4 to Attorney Colucci were not returned on Friday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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