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Another person pleads not guilty to hospital kickback scheme

ABERDEEN — A third person has pleaded not guilty to charges related to an alleged kickback scheme at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Panola County.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Robert S. Corkern entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Aberdeen. He was released on $40,000 bond.

Corkern is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., three counts of loan and credit application fraud, and one count of bribery involving federal programs.

Corkern will face trial Dec. 12 with co-defendants Raymond L. Shoemaker, a Tupelo healthcare executive, and Earnest Levi “Lee” Garner Jr., a Batesville businessman. They each pleaded not guilty several months ago and are free on bond.

Federal prosecutors have alleged David Chandler, the former county administrator, acted as a middleman for the kickbacks. Chandler has not been indicted.

The government alleges Garner paid Chandler $268,000 for nursing service hours billed to the hospital by Garner’s business. In return, prosecutors say Chandler was to use his influence to increase Tri-Lakes’ use of Garner’s business.

Prosecutors said Chandler also paid Shoemaker $12,000, which was toward a demand for an alleged $25,000 bribe.

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