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Tapes suggest doctor made deals for Medicaid contract

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Jurors heard tape recordings in which Dr. Phillip Bobo, on trial for Medicaid fraud, bragged about getting additional state funding for the Alabama Fire College and offered competitors incentives not to seek a Medicaid contract Bobo wanted.

Bobo, 63, is on trial in federal court on fraud charges in what prosecutors say was an attempt by Bobo to pay off his competitor with help from the administration of then-Gov. Don Siegelman.

Defense attorney Bill Clark has said Bobo was best qualified to offer the maternity care and that prosecutors are trying to criminalize business negotiations for the contract, which was to provide prenatal care to poor mothers in West Alabama.

Prosecutors played two tape recordings of 1999 telephone conversations with Bobo made by John Maxwell, who was the administrator of the Capstone Medical Center at The University of Alabama. U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn allowed jurors to hear the tapes despite objections by defense attorneys, who complained about the low quality of the recordings.

In the tapes played in court Tuesday, Bobo told Maxwell that his proposal would help Capstone’s ailing finances. Capstone was a partner in Alabama Health Network, which was seeking the Medicaid contract.

Bobo said on the tapes that his business, Neighborhood Health Services, was better qualified for the maternity work and that other money would be available for Capstone because of his relationship with Siegelman.

‘Additional funding’

“I managed to get some additional funding put into the Fire College with the blessing of the administration and what we would like to do is contract with existing programs,” Bobo said, according to a transcript of the tape recordings.

In one of the recordings played to jurors Tuesday, Bobo told Maxwell that the Fire College money would be available every year.

“Yeah. It’s not a one-time deal ... pay it every year. So, I mean, y’all got a lot of — that’s a lot of incentive. This governor is going to be governor for eight years,” Bobo said on the tape. Siegelman ended up serving one term.

Bobo is charged with fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal agents.

He was convicted of similar charges in a 2001 trial, but that conviction was overturned by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Prosecutors later obtained a new indictment against Bobo.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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