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Last updated 11:17PM ET
March 7, 2021
Former Finance Director Says Bobo Worth The Price
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Former state Finance Director Henry Mabry III testified that Dr. Phillip Bobo's company was awarded a Medicaid contract over a competitor with lower prices because Bobo's program manager had more experience.

Mabry, testifying in U.S. District Court in Tuscaloosa, said the money amount was not the only consideration and there were concerns about the quality of services that would be provided by the lower-priced competitor.

"These were not pencils. These were babies and mothers," he said.

Bobo is charged with fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal agents. Prosecutors have accused Bobo of using his influence in former Gov. Don Siegelman's administration to bribe his competitor with $550,000 in bogus work through the Alabama Fire College and $250,000 of his own money if they dropped out of the contract process to provide maternity services to poor, pregnant women.

Defense attorneys called witnesses Friday who described Bobo's company as focused on quality and reducing the infant mortality rate in Alabama. Friday was the first day for defense witnesses and the fifth day of testimony in the trial, which is scheduled to continue Tuesday.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Blackburn has scheduled a hearing Monday on a defense motion for judgment of acquittal, which if successful would dismiss some or all charges against the Tuscaloosa doctor.

Bobo owned 51 percent of Neighborhood Health Services, which submitted the proposals for the maternity program.

Neighborhood Health Services competed with Alabama Health Services for the district that includes Tuscaloosa, District 4.

Mabry said he evaluated the entities, not the doctors and hospitals, because the doctors and hospitals would be the providers under any circumstances. He also denied that Siegelman directed or suggested that the award go to Bobo, who was a Siegelman supporter.

U.S. Attorney Matt Hart asked Mabry whether he, as state finance director, should have been concerned that Bobo was using taxpayer money to get the competition to back out. Mabry did not have an opportunity to respond.

Mabry, in responding to a question from Blackburn, said Bobo's group did not have the required network in place to serve maternity patients in the five-county area when he submitted his bid.

But Mabry said he disagreed with that requirement, and the contract could have been given to someone else later if Bobo failed to develop the necessary network.

Defense witness Mary Jo Looser, a former Medicaid official who joined Bobo's medical group to handle the maternity contracts, also testified Friday. Looser said she believed Bobo's proposal to handle the maternity business in west Alabama exceeded Medicaid requirements because of an experienced staff, sophisticated patient tracking capabilities and low patient loads for the group's doctors.

But Looser said some people hired by Bobo to help win the state business had confidential information about the bid process, information that she said she believed came from Siegelman's office or Medicaid administrators.

Charlotte Williams, a former state public health employee who also joined Bobo's group, said Bobo demanded high-quality medical services, higher than Medicaid required of his staff. "He expected above that. That was the absolute minimum he would tolerate," Williams testified.

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