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Last updated 12:06AM ET
March 9, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Bobo Medicaid Trial Begins Today (Monday)
(2007-07-30)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Opening arguments are expected Monday in the federal fraud trial of Dr. Phillip Bobo, who is accused of offering bogus Alabama Fire College contracts in a scheme to rig bids for Medicaid work.

The Tuscaloosa physician is accused of health-care fraud, wire fraud, witness tampering, perjury and lying to federal agents.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Blackburn said the trial could last three weeks.

Bobo's lawyers contend prosecutors have unfairly targeted him, trying to cast his efforts to negotiate legitimate business deals as crimes.

The case against Bobo focuses on his 1999 efforts to discourage a competitor from bidding on a Medicaid contract.

Bobo received the contract after offering to charge more than $1 million more than the low bidder's proposal to serve poor, pregnant women.

The low bidder challenged Bobo's selection, and then accused Bobo of trying to bully and bribe him out of competition when state officials agreed to seek new proposals.

Prosecutors argue Bobo was attempting to rig the bids on the Medicaid contracts, offering one competitor contracts with the Alabama Fire College for little or no work if it dropped its bid.

The government's case claims then-Gov. Don Siegelman and others arranged for $550,000 to be set aside at the Alabama Fire College where Bobo was medical director so Bobo could pay the bogus contracts.

Bobo was a Siegelman supporter and contributor.

Bobo's lawyers tried unsuccessfully in pretrial motions to prevent prosecutors from referring to Bobo's discussions with his competitor as bid-rigging.

They argued that an appeals court already had agreed that prosecutors could not say Bobo's actions amounted to a violation of Alabama bid law because there was no requirement that the state law be followed in this case.

But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled prosecutors could explain to jurors that Bobo and others seeking the Medicaid work were supposed to follow a bid process developed for awarding the contracts.

While earlier court rulings properly blocked any reference to Alabama's bid law, the appeals court ruled, earlier decisions did not prohibit describing a bid process developed by the awarding agency and accepted by potential contractors.

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