By PATSY R. BRUMFIELD/Daily Journal
OXFORD – FBI investigator Shannon Wright did not make false statements to a grand jury looking into a Batesville hospital corruption scheme, Senior District Judge Neal B. Biggers said.
Months ago, a grand jury was told that Batesville businessman Lee Garner padded his nurse-staffing bills to Tri-Lakes Medical Center by $5 an hour to pay off then-Panola County administrator David Chandler, who claimed he could help get the bills paid off in a timely manner.
Garner and Tupelo businessman Ray Shoemaker were indicted and convicted on multiple counts associated with a bribery-kickback scheme at the hospital, where Shoemaker was a top executive.
Later, Biggers dismissed all convictions against Garner and two against Shoemaker. Shoemaker was sentenced to 55 months in prison Monday.
He also insisted no evidence showed Garner padded any bills to the hospital.
But last week, Biggers ordered a “clarification” of what he wrote when he dismissed the convictions.
“The grand jury testimony shows that was not a government agent/witness who made the misstatement,” Biggers wrote, noting it was Chandler “who made the misstatement … which later at trial was determined to be false.”
In a related order, a Nov. 14 hearing was set to sentence Chandler.
Chandler, the government’s key witness against Garner and Shoemaker, pleaded guilty Dec. 14 to two counts of fraud and embezzlement from Panola County.
He faces up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 fines, in addition to restitution.
However, it’s clear he hopes for leniency for his help against Garner and Shoemaker despite the multiple dismissals.