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Prosecutors rest Medicaid fraud case against Tuscaloosa physician Bobo

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Federal prosecutors rested their Medicaid fraud case against Dr. Phillip Bobo after trying to show he made false statements to investigators, one of the charges against him in his retrial.

The final prosecution witness, state attorney general's office investigator Gerald Shockley, testified Thursday that during a June 10, 1999 interview with Bobo at the physician's home, Bobo said he had not made an offer of $800,000 to get his competition for a Medicaid contract to drop out.

Defense attorneys began Friday calling witnesses to testify on behalf of the prominent Tuscaloosa physician.

One defense witness, Mary Jo Looser, testified that she had worked for the state Department of Public Health in a program that was started to combat infant mortality. Looser testified that she believed that Bobo's company, Neighborhood Health Services, had an adequate provider network at the time of submitting its proposal for the Medicaid contract, according to The Tuscaloosa News Web site.

Prosecutors earlier played tape recordings in which Dr. Marc Armstrong, a Capstone Medical Center doctor, and John Maxwell, Capstone's administrator at the time, spoke with Bobo. In the tapes, Bobo discusses how he could help Capstone's ailing finances with $550,000 in contracts from the State Fire College and $250,000 from Bobo's group, Neighborhood Health Services.

Capstone was a partner in Alabama Health Network, which was competing for the Medicaid contract to provide maternity care to low-income, pregnant women in the area. Prosecutors contend Bobo sought to pay off the competitor not to bid on the contract.

Shockley said Bobo, during the interview at his home, explained the $800,000 figure by saying Anderson told him that Capstone Medical Center had an $800,000 shortfall and that Bobo talked with Anderson about getting Capstone that amount for services provided.

Defense attorney Bill Clark has argued that Bobo conducted business negotiations over the contract and did nothing illegal.

Bobo, 63, is charged with fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators.

Shockley testified that he went to Bobo's home before 7 a.m. on June 10, 1999 with an FBI agent and an assistant U.S. attorney after an allegation was made that Bobo had offered an incentive for Alabama Health Network not to compete. Before going to Bobo's home, Shockley had Maxwell record phone calls secretly and pretend to go along with Bobo's offer.

Maxwell has testified that he did lead Bobo into believing they had a deal.

Shockley testified that he was the only person to take notes during the 20-minute interview, which ended when Shockley asked to record the conversation. Shockley said he wrote his report four days later based on his notes and his memory.

Clark asked Shockley if he had ever made a mistake in his interview notes, and the investigator said it was possible.

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

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