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Jury still out after three days in Bobo Medicaid fraud case

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — A jury deliberated for a third day Monday without reaching a verdict in the trial of Tuscaloosa physician Phillip Bobo, who’s accused of trying to pay off a competitor for a state Medicaid contract.

About 2:15 p.m. Monday, the jury presented a written question to the judge, asking “can the jury find the defendant guilty or not guilty on some counts, and not be unanimously decided on other counts?”

U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn said yes.

Blackburn asked the jury whether the question meant the jury had reached a verdict on some counts, but the jury foreman said no.

The jury deliberated Thursday and Friday and then resumed Monday morning after a weekend break. Jurors will report back Tuesday morning.

Bobo, 63, is charged with health care and wire fraud, witness tampering, lying to an FBI agent and lying on the witness stand during a previous trial in 2001. That conviction was thrown out by a federal appeals court, which led to the second trial.

Bobo is accused of trying to bribe a health care group not to compete for a state Medicaid contract being awarded by former Gov. Don Siegelman’s administration in 1999. The contract was to provide care to poor pregnant women in Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Bibb and Lamar counties in west-central Alabama.

Bobo’s attorney told the jury in closing arguments that Bobo broke no law when negotiating a business arrangement with health care providers. The defense attorney, Bill Clark, said federal prosecutors had miscast the prominent Tuscaloosa physician’s conversations as illegal.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Hart said Bobo was trying to rig the system by paying off his competitor with help from friends in state government. Prosecutors said the proposed payoff of $800,000 would include $550,000 from the state-funded Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa, where Bobo was medical director.

Siegelman and his chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, had been charged with Bobo, but federal prosecutors dropped the case in 2004.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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