- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Former Gov. Don Siegelman goes on trial today on Medicaid fraud charges amid a corruption probe that has produced guilty pleas from three persons connected with his administration.

Mr. Siegelman, defeated for re-election in 2002 by Republican Bob Riley, who repeatedly accused him of running a corrupt administration, was indicted in May on charges of conspiracy, health care fraud and theft. Also indicted were former Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick and physician Dr. Phillip Bobo.

Three others — Mr. Siegelman’s former executive secretary and a lobbyist and an architect seeking favors from the state — have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the federal-state investigation.

Mr. Siegelman, Mr. Hamrick and Dr. Bobo are accused of trying to rig bids on lucrative contracts sought by Dr. Bobo’s company to provide medical care to poor pregnant women in rural Alabama in 1999, Mr. Siegelman’s first year in office.

Mr. Hamrick will be tried with Mr. Siegelman in Tuscaloosa, where, prosecutors say, the crimes occurred. Dr. Bobo, who sought a separate trial, will be tried later.

Mr. Siegelman said the charges are a politically motivated attack by Republican prosecutors bent on ruining his reputation before a possible comeback bid for governor in 2006.

“My goal … has been to move this process forward as quickly as possible, so that my family and I can put all of this behind us and so that the people of Alabama can see that the facts and the truth support me and not the prosecutors,” he said.

But U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said she is confident of convictions in the case.

“The government’s case against defendants Siegelman and Hamrick is an important effort to fight corruption at the highest level of state government,” she said.

Last year, the investigation into the Siegelman administration produced guilty pleas from Mr. Siegelman’s former executive secretary, Nick Bailey, and a lobbyist and an architect.

Bailey admitted taking more than $112,000 in cash and gifts from the lobbyist and architect. According to court records, he will be a witness for the prosecution in Mr. Siegelman’s trial.

Another witness, according to court records, will be Amy Herring, a former Siegelman aide who became a lobbyist for Dr. Bobo and tried to help him get the state contracts.

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