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Last updated 5:12PM ET
March 7, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Motion to Dismiss Bobo Case Denied
(2007-08-07)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A federal judge has turned down a motion to dismiss three charges in a Medicaid fraud case against Dr. Phillip Bobo, but postponed a ruling on dismissing two other charges against the Tuscaloosa physician.

Bobo is on trial in federal court in Tuscaloosa accused of obtaining confidential information from the administration of then Gov. Don Siegelman in 1999 to offer $800,000, including $500,00 from the Alabama Fire College, to get a competitor to drop a bid to receive a Medicaid contract to provide maternity care to low-income women.

After the prosecution rested its case against Bobo Thursday, the defense asked U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn to dismiss the charges, contending prosecutors did not present enough evidence to prove their case a routine motion made in most criminal trials.

Bobo's attorneys began calling witnesses Friday and Blackburn held a hearing Monday at the federal courthouse in Birmingham on the defense motion, outside the presence of jurors, who are hearing the case in Tuscaloosa.

Blackburn denied the defendant's motion to acquit on the counts of witness tampering, making false statements to the FBI and false statements before the court. Blackburn postponed ruling on the charges of health care fraud and wire fraud, saying she was reviewing whether a bid process had to be in place before Bobo could have committed fraud.

Bobo is accused of using his relationship with Siegelman to obtain access to confidential state information relating to the contract bids and access to state money at the Fire College, where he worked. There has been no testimony that Siegelman was involved in the alleged fraud.

Defense lawyers argue there was no formal bid process required to award the contract, and there was no official bid process under way at the time prosecutors claim Bobo made the offer. Bobo's lawyers have said he was simply negotiating deals with his competition to establish a better network of doctors and other providers.

"The negotiations were nothing more than an exercise of a right under the First Amendment to engage in conversation and negotiations in the exercise of free enterprise," defense attorneys stated in a written motion to dismiss the health care fraud charge.

A judge's ruling denying the motion doesn't mean the government proved its case to the jury, but rather that it offered at least the minimum evidence needed to allow a jury to consider the case further.

Testimony from defense witnesses continued Tuesday. Clark told Blackburn the defense expects to rest its case by afternoon.

A federal jury convicted Bobo in 2001, but an appeals court overturned the verdict, noting problems with the indictment prosecutors used to charge him. The current trial stems from the new indictment issued in 2004.

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