By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – David Chandler, the government’s key witness in a medical fraud case trial this week, originally faced 26 counts of federal crimes.
Dec. 14, he pleaded guilty to two counts in a deal for his testimony against businessmen Ray Shoemaker of Tupelo and Lee Garner of Batesville.
The pair’s trial began Tuesday in Oxford before Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers.
Chandler, 57, was Panola County’s administrator when he says he and the two men conspired to boost nursing service hours for Garner’s Guardian Nursing Angel business with Tri-Lakes Medical Center, where Shoemaker was a top executive.
He began his testimony against them Tuesday as they faced multiple federal charges. Their attorneys insist Chandler is lying to protect his own skin.
Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock unsealed Chandler’s May 20 indictment and related documents after the government’s and defense’s requests to do so.
If Chandler were convicted on all the charges against him in the indictment, he faced the rest of his life in prison. With his deal to cooperate for the government, his total liability is no more than 30 years for admitting to defrauding Panola County by embezzling $50,124 through a company he secretly owned, $25,920 in unearned overtime and $33,564 of fraudulent construction work for the county.
His deal also includes the possibility the government will ask Aycock to consider leniency for him, if he provides what’s termed “substantial assistance” against the pair.
Chandler’s indictment accuses him, as county administrator, of a mail fraud scheme through the secret company, fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.
All the counts were dismissed Wednesday on the government’s request, saying his previous guilty plea made the other charges unnecessary.
His agreement to cooperate with the government also was unsealed.
He also agreed to take a polygraph test.
However, the agreement does not prevent any action against him involving federal tax laws, his plea agreement notes.