Meridian Star

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November 14, 2012

Doctor sentenced for role in medical kickback case

OXFORD, Miss. —  

A Batesville doctor has been sentenced to home confinement for his role in a medical kickback scheme.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Dr. Robert Corkern was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers to two years' house confinement and three years' post-release supervision. Corkern was also ordered to pay $400,000 restitution.

Corkern pleaded guilty to bribing a former Panola County administrator to use public funds as part of his earnest money to buy Tri-Lakes Medical Center in 2005.

Prosecutors say Corkern used Kaizen Inc., a nonprofit consulting entity owned by then-hospital administrator Ray Shoemaker, to facilitate the purchase.

Cockern testified in February at the trial of Shoemaker and co-defendant Earnest Levi Garner, a Batesville businessman, that then-Panola County Administrator David Chandler informed him of $400,000 of hospital-owned money in county custody and agreed to transfer it to the hospital but that Chandler threatened to ruin the hospital unless Corkern paid him $25,000.

"It appears you allowed yourself to be used as a puppet or pawn by greedy, unscrupulous men to enrich themselves," Biggers told Corkern. "You made a terrible mistake by letting these people outweigh your common sense."

Biggers said it did not appear that Corkern profited from any illegalities regarding the hospital.

"You were evidently trying to save it," the judge said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mims told Biggers that Corkern "has been very cooperative since the beginning," noting his extensive and candid testimony in the Shoemaker/Garner trial and his knowledge that helped trigger a guilty plea in another case.

 

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