Doctor wants out of co-defendant status in health care fraud case

By Patsy R. Brumfield | NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Batesville physician Robert Corkern wants relief from his co-defendant status in a multi-million-dollar federal health care fraud case.
Thursday, Corkern’s attorneys asked that he be separated from jeopardy on certain counts of the indictment or be removed from the case to stand alone.
The case is set for trial Jan. 9 before Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers.
His co-defendants are Tupelo health care executive Raymond L. Shoemaker and Batesville businessman Lee Garner.
They are accused in two conspiracies arising from alleged corruption in the operations of Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville.
Corkern’s attorneys claim a lack of “commonality” between the conspiracy alleged in Counts 1-7 and the second alleged in Counts 8-13.
In the first situation, they say, only Shoemaker and Garner are charged with a kickback bribery scheme over nursing services while Shoemaker was an officer at the hospital. The second, they say, accuses Shoemaker and Corkern of lying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture about loans to the hospital and that they diverted these funds for their personal benefit.
“The only commonality between the two conspiracies is Shoemaker and the hospital itself,” their motion states.
Count 14 accuses Shoemaker of embezzlement at Humphreys County Memorial Hospital, where he was CEO.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The indictment, Corkern’s attorneys say, “does not consist of conspiracies comprised of the same series of acts or transactions.”
They say their client could be hurt by the possibility the jury could get confused and prevent his right to a fair trial.
They also say legal issues will arise if one defendant testifies and others do not.
“The very nature of a joint trial suggests that there would be a conflict between the competing interests of each defendant throughout the trial,” they note.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com