By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal
OXFORD – Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. ordered Tupelo businessman Ray Shoemaker immediately released from jail Monday.
He’s been there about two weeks after the government claimed he’d violated conditions of supervised release from a March 2 conviction. Defense attorneys Steven Farese Sr. of Ashland and Michael Heilman of Jackson shot holes in the prosecutors’ contentions that Shoemaker put his girlfriend, Melissa Lindsey of Itawamba County, in fear of her life and caused her bodily harm after she told him March 31 that their four-month “relationship” was over.
The government claimed Shoemaker trespassed onto Lindsey’s property, grabbed her violently and threw things at her during the confrontation. Lindsey directly contradicted FBI agent Shannon Wright’s report of what Lindsey told investigators, who were alerted to the incident by a female friend of Lindsey.
“I don’t believe he’s a violent person,” Lindsey told the court during a nearly three-hour hearing. But she admitted after the incident that she moved her outside key so that Shoemaker couldn’t find it.
Shoemaker was free on $50,000 bond after his March 2 conviction in a nursing services kickback/bribery scheme allegedly perpetrated while he was an executive at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville. Shortly after the jury verdict, he was arrested on charges he threatened an employee of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His bond was continued from that charge.
Monday, Biggers said he was unconvinced of the government allegations to revoke Shoemaker’s bond but he said the health-care business executive came close.
“This court does not find that … conditions were violated,” the senior judge said at the hearing’s close. If Lindsey had reported the confrontation to law enforcement, Shoemaker would have been required to report that or face revocation.
“He’s not required to report any altercation, what I’d call a lovers’ quarrel,” Biggers added.
The judge noted that Lindsey said she wasn’t afraid of Shoemaker, that he did not trespass because she gave him access to a key, and that while he threw “some things around, by her testimony, but it doesn’t rise to the level this court will consider keeping a man in jail.”
Biggers also said Shoemaker has passed random alcohol and drug tests since his conviction. Shoemaker and co-defendant Lee Garner of Batesville will be sentenced in a few months, after completion of reports to guide Biggers’ decisions on their punishment.