Cardinal CFO Out Same Day Health Dept. Released Critical Audit

Oct 27, 2017

The lobby of the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Corporate Headquarters on the 15th floor of the Nascar Plaza in Uptown.
Credit Alex Olgin / WFAE News

The chief financial officer of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare left the same day an audit was released that’s critical of how the behavioral health organization compensates top executives.

Cardinal’s general counsel, Chuck Hollowell, would not say whether CFO James Otterberg resigned or was fired. He did read a short prepared statement.

“James Otterberg left Cardinal Innovations on October 2, to pursue a position closer to his family in Greensboro, N.C. and we wish him well,” he said.

Hollowell, also, wouldn’t say if Ottenberg took advantage of a severance package that was the subject of a critical state audit released that same day. The audit revealed that the severance packages of Cardinal’s CEO and 10 other employees include two to three years of salary and health care.

Otterberg’s employee contract is not public record, so the specifics of his severance package are not known.

North Carolina’s six other regional behavioral health care organizations don’t have severance packages for employees other than the CEO. Charlotte-based Cardinal is the state’s largest, managing Medicaid-funded disability and drug treatment services for 20 counties.

Trey Sutten has been Cardinal’s interim CFO since October 17. That’s the same day that Cardinal’s board slashed its CEO’s pay by two-thirds to meet state requirements. The CEO had been making $617,000. Sutten used to work for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. He was the CFO of the division that manages Medicaid.

Contact this reporter at 704-926-3859 or aolgin@wfae.org