An Alabama physician entrepreneur, the state's former governor and his former chief of staff were arraigned today in federal court on charges they conspired to rig bids on a state contract with the doctor's company.
Tuscaloosa, Ala., physician Phillip Bobo, M.D., former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his top aide, Paul Hamrick, were indicted by a federal grand jury May 27.
All three maintain their innocence.
Siegelman, who served as state attorney general in 1987-1991 and governor in 1999-2003, has said the indictment is politically motivated by Republicans and is "an attempt at character assassination before the governor's race rolls around again" in 2006.
Siegelman's former executive secretary, Nick Bailey, already has pleaded guilty in another government corruption probe and, according to court records, is cooperating with prosecutors.
At issue in the Siegelman case is the awarding of contracts by the state Medicaid agency to pay for medical care for poor pregnant women. The three are accused of steering $550,000 in extra state funding to the State Fire College in Tuscaloosa.
Bobo, who served as medical director of the Emergency Medical Services training program at the Fire College, planned to use the money to induce a competing company to stop bidding against Bobo's company for the maternity contracts, according to the indictment.
For Bobo, this is the second time he's been charged in the case. He was originally convicted in 2001, but a federal appeals court threw out the conviction because of a faulty indictment.
Federal prosecutors started over and broadened the case the second time around.
The indictment says two lobbyists for Bobo's company tried to get Medicaid officials to change the bid requirements to help Bobo get the contract.
One of those lobbyists, Amy Herring, is mentioned by name in the indictment because Bobo is charged with trying to prevent her from cooperating with federal authorities investigating the Medicaid contract.