• 59°

Feds indict former governor on fraud

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, his former chief of staff and a Tuscaloosa physician were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on fraud charges.

Siegelman, his former Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick and Dr. Phillip Bobo were indicted each on one count of conspiracy, health care fraud and program fraud; Bobo was also indicted on two counts of witness tampering and one count each of wire fraud, making a false statement to the FBI and making a false statement to the court. The charges are the result of a long investigation looking into the misuse of the competitive bid process.

“Today is a sad day in Alabama,” said Alabama Attorney General Troy King. “Citizens have the right to expect honest services from their elected officials. However, the two messages today are that accountability is being required of all who serve you. And to those who serve our state in positions of trust, the message is loud and clear – uphold your oaths, obey the law or face the consequences.”

According to the indictment, in May 1999 while governor, Siegelman, along with Hamrick allegedly moved funds from the Special Education Trust Fund to the State Fire College in Tuscaloosa to allow Bobo to pay off competitors from bidding in the Maternity Care Program using fraudulent contracts. The Maternity Care Program attempts to lower the infant mortality rate in the state by providing poor, pregnant women with medical services.

Despite the serious nature of the charges, Siegelman said he was confident he would be proven innocent.

“The charges against me are baseless,” he said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. “As the facts come out, I will be proven innocent. At the end of the day, I believe that even the most skeptical – perhaps even the Republicans who brought these charges – will be convinced of my innocence. This Republican administration will not succeed in their abuse of America’s legal system to accomplish their political goals. This is nothing more than Republican politics at its worst – nothing more than character assassination.”

The Director of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Mike Marshall said they, as public officials must be held accountable for what they’ve done.

“If they are found guilty of these crimes against Medicare and Medicaid, then they should throw the book at them,” Marshall said.

He said this directly affects one of our programs here at the hospital that helps with the Maternity Care Programs. He is also said that $100 million dollars is no chump change.

The Mayor of Demopolis Austin Caldwell said when hearing about the indictments, it is always bad for a public official to get into this kind of trouble. He also said public officials above all people must have honesty and integrity.

“It’s bad for the public to see an elected official get indicted on federal charges,” Caldwell said.

William Coplin said the charges were very serious and expressed confidence in the justice system. He also said Siegelman’s attorney David Cromwell Johnson just recently passed away and hoped he had another attorney that would provide him consul during this time.

“Once these charges go to court, I have full confidence in the court system that they will figure it all out,” Coplin said.

Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt, and Demopolis City Councilman Thomas Moore all denied to comment on the indictments when asked by the Demopolis Times.