By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Tupelo businessman Ray Shoemaker was sentenced on Monday by Senior Judge Neal Biggers to 55 months in federal prison on six counts related to a bribery-kickback conspiracy involving federal funds.
The crimes centered on the operation and sale of Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville where Shoemaker was a top executive.
Shoemaker will serve the sentences concurrently, was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and will be under post-release supervision for three years. He was given until Nov. 1 to report to prison.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will decide where Shoemaker will serve his time.
Shoemaker wiped tears and fought to keep control of his breaking voice as he asked Biggers for leniency.
“I went to college to try to make something of myself,” he said. “I found myself 33 years old, fighting for my country.
“I’m a good person. I’m a good man,” Shoemaker told Biggers. “I had aspirations of changing health care. I had aspirations of being the husband I ought to be. I ask you today for your mercy and justice.”
Prosecutors argued that Shoemaker’s other criminal record – a string of DUIs and a pending felony DUI-3rd charge – added to the seriousness of his white-collar crimes as reasons against leniency or continuing bond. Defense attorney Steven Farese said the three DUI convictions “overstate his criminal history,” all having come close together after Shoemaker’s indictment.
A few weeks ago, Biggers threw out four of the 10 counts of a 12-count indictment on which a federal district court jury convicted Shoemaker in February.
He also issued judgments of acquittal on each of four counts on which co-defendant Earnest “Levi” Garner of Batesville was found guilty. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a notice of appeal on three of Shoemaker’s acquittals and all of Garner’s.
Dr. Bob Corkern, a co-defendant who pleaded guilty and became a prosecution witness, was scheduled for sentencing along with Shoemaker on Monday, but shortly before Biggers appeared, Corkern and his entourage left the courtroom.
The federal court docket did not show a new sentencing date by mid-afternoon Monday, and multiple calls to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for explanation were not returned.