MANATEE -- An extended-stay health resort proposed to be built off U.S. 301 in Ellenton has been pulled from Thursday's Manatee County Planning Commission agenda.
Inita Bedi, a managing member of Riverwalk of Ellenton LLC, which owns the property at 4917 U.S. 301 with her sister, Monica, and brother, Neil, said Wednesday afternoon that the project will not be going forward because it got "out of the scope of what we intended."
"We decided to pursue other opportunities with the property at another time," Inita Bedi said. "My goal is to support the community I live in and support the growth Ellenton has seen."
Monica Bedi said they asked their father, self-described "guru" Surindar Singh "Steve" Bedi, only to help in the rezoning process with the county. The application was
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to rezone the 3.06-acre property from residential single family and residential multifamily to planned development mixed use.
"That was simply it," Monica Bedi said Wednesday.
Nick Azzara, Manatee County spokesman, said a county planner received a letter Wednesday afternoon from Mark Barnebey, the attorney for the project, asking that it be pulled from Thursday's agenda.
Steve Bedi, whose contact information was associated with the project in county documents, spoke with the Bradenton Herald on Monday about a proposed Rejuvenex Resort on Manatee River, described as an extended-stay resort focused on changing people's lifestyles. After the Herald asked additional questions on Wednesday about the elder Bedi's past, the application was withdrawn.
"We just don't think that this is the appropriate application at this time," Barnebey said.
Monica Bedi said they had no idea their father had talked with the Herald Monday or what was described about the proposal in the agenda's supplemental documents.
"We had no idea where he came up with what he came up with," she said.
Father not part of project
Monica Bedi said they were looking at building on the Ellenton property either an extended stay facility for snowbirds who can't afford to own a second home here or a place for people with skin conditions to go to learn about long-term solutions.
Monica and her sister, Inita, stressed Wednesday they are upstanding members of the local medical community and their father does not have a medical license.
Monica Bedi said her father is not involved in the project and does not own any of the property. She added he is also not involved with any of his children's businesses.
"He has no interaction with anything we did with the property or anything we do in the future," Monica Bedi said.
Steve Bedi, a former Tampa Bay doctor who now lives in Palmetto, had run-ins with the law in the 1980s and early 1990s, leading to the suspension of his medical license by the Florida Board of Medicine and time in federal prison.
When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Bedi, 72, said he is not in practice anymore and gave up his license as he is now focused on real estate development.
"There was Medicare fraud and it was taken care of," Steve Bedi said Wednesday.
Steve Bedi suggested calling Barnebey, the family's attorney for the Ellenton project.
Barnebey said he had not been familiar with Bedi's past.
"That's a while ago and he is trying to move into a different area, and health is something he believes in," Barnebey said.
Prior to his career change, Bedi was incarcerated for committing a Medicare-related crime.
Bedi ran "Heart Helpers" clinics in Pasco County that provided blood-cleansing therapy to hundreds of patients. Chelation therapy, an intravenous treatment designed to flush out clogged arteries, is considered experimental in most cases and not approved for Medicare reimbursement.
Time spent behind bars
Bedi was sentenced to five years in prison for Medicare fraud, according to an Associated Press article from 1990.
Bedi used "faulty heart tests and telephone solicitation to convince patients that they suffered arterial blockage and could best be cured by a questionable program of holistic medicine and chelation therapy, a drug treatment to remove heavy metals from the body," a St. Petersburg Times article states.
According to a spokesman with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bedi was first designated on May 8, 1992, transferred to another facility on Aug. 27, 1993, and was released on parole May 6, 1994.
Steve Bedi was "certainly in our system but whether (he was) physically in BOP" was unclear, a BOP spokesman said Wednesday.
A complaint against Bedi and record of discipline is on file with the Florida Department of Health, but the Bradenton Herald was unable to receive the details of the complaint on Wednesday as a DOH spokeswoman said it had to be mailed.
According to the St. Petersburg Times article, Steve Bedi was suspended from practicing medicine in Florida in August 1984 for two years after "he was found guilty of malpractice, making deceptive claims to patients, using fraud or undue influence, exploiting patients for financial gain and offering unaccepted medical practices."
Bedi's license expired Dec. 31, 1985, due to voluntary relinquish.
According to his website, psazero.com, Steve Bedi sold his practice in 1986 and became involved in real estate ventures and investment and became reacquainted with his Yogic roots. PSA Zero, which Steve Bedi owns, is a treatment program focused on maximizing cellular immunity to rejuvenate prostate and sexual health.
On June 30, 1986, the Pasco County's Sheriff's Office charged Steve Bedi with making a false or fraudulent insurance claim and attempted grand theft. Bedi was accused of filing a false insurance claim for $400,000. Details of how the case was resolved were not available.
In 2010, after Bedi's Medicare-related conviction, a federal appeals court found that Florida Medical Center of Clearwater, failed to disclose to the federal government that Bedi held a controlling ownership interest and was president of FMC while he was excluded from participating in the Medicare program because of his 1990 conviction.
Monica Bedi said her father's history of trouble with Medicare is irrelevant to plans for the Ellenton property because he is not involved in the project.
"No project that is going there is going to have to do with Medicare or billing Medicare," she said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.