BATESVILLE — A new trial has been ordered for a Batesville businessman convicted on four counts related to his alleged role in an alleged multimillion dollar medical fraud scheme.
Garner and former hospital administrator Ray Shoemaker of Tupelo were convicted last March of allegedly conspiring to boost Garner’s nurse staffing business and pay Shoemaker for his assistance as a key executive at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers threw out two counts of Shoemaker’s 10 guilty verdicts.
Shoemaker, former CEO of a Tupelo-based rural health care management company, still faces sentencing on seven counts left standing.
In the order, Biggers said some jury instructions were prejudicial to both defendants.
Biggers also said the government erred in relaying on the alleged actions of then-Panola County administrator David Chandler to support allegations against Garner and Shoemaker.
Prosecutors had said Garner paid a kickback of $5 per hour for every hour of nursing services that his companies billed the medical center.
Court records say Chandler, who also was the former chairman of the hospital board, testified that Garner used him to get influence at the hospital.
Prosecutors say Garner paid Chandler $268,000 as part of the scheme between May 2005 and July 2007. Court records say Chandler acted as a middleman between Shoemaker and Garner.
“It is undisputed that Garner’s company provided competent nursing services for each hour it got paid. Moreover, Tri-Lakes ended up owing Garner for provided nurses which Tri-Lake never paid for,” Biggers said in his ruling.
But Biggers said prosecutors had to show that the person receiving the alleged bribe — in this case Chandler — had authority to act for the institution in the business actions.
“It is undisputed that Chandler had no decision-making authority in regard to the actual procurement of nursing staff … and was not shown to have controlled those who were,” Biggers said.
Garner, Shoemaker and Batesville doctor Robert Corkern were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2011 on allegations they carried out a conspiracy to wrongly reward Garner and enrich Shoemaker through a kickback-bribery scheme, as well as multiple lies to lending agencies funding Tri-Lakes.
Corkern and Chandler cut plea deals with the government for their cooperation.
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal