It was a dramatic turn for a man who in 2006 had his state representative, Leonard Morris, publicly credit him as having single-handedly saved Tri-Lakes Medical Center, in Batesville, Miss., from bankruptcy.
Shoemaker was named a Modern Healthcare Up & Comer in September 2006. The indictment alleges that when Shoemaker received the magazine's distinction for notable young healthcare executives, he had already received $12,000 in bribes for steering nursing work to a politically connected firm, and had secretly taken a $250,000 payment from the hospital's line of credit using a shell company.
Also indicted was Earnest Garner Jr., the owner of nurse-staffing firms employed by Tri-Lakes, where Shoemaker worked as CEO from 2005 to 2007. Garner has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys did not return calls for comment.
The hospital's new owners, the physician-run Alliance Health Partners, say none of the former officials are involved with the hospital today. However, news of the indictments has complicated the 110-bed hospital's current efforts to find capital partners.
“It gives us a little bit of a black eye in PR, but we're a small hospital in a rural community, and most people know what's going on,” said Dr. Mike Havens, managing partner and chief medical officer with Alliance Health Partners. “Someone outside looking in definitely wants to know the story. But it in no way affects the way we run the hospital.”
The indictment alleges that Garner bribed former Panola County Administrator David Chandler with about $268,000 in kickbacks between 2005 and 2007 in exchange for Chandler's using his influence as then-chairman of Tri-Lakes' board of directors to secure the nursing contract. Prosecutors say Chandler later paid Shoemaker a $12,000 portion of his bribe money. Chandler is not charged in the indictment.
The alleged bribes and related lies to the FBI were only one of several schemes alleged by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office in Oxford, Miss. Government lawyers also say that Shoemaker secretly arranged to have a not-for-profit corporation he owned purchase the hospital through a $27 million loan guaranteed by the U.S. Agriculture Department, and that he had the hospital pay him $250,000 from a $4 million commercial line of credit that he secured after the sale.
Separately, prosecutors say Shoemaker owned a hospital-management company called Rural Healthcare Developers that operated the 34-bed Humphreys County Memorial Hospital, Belzoni, Miss., until the company purchased the hospital outright from the county in 2008.
While working as the operator of Humphreys, the indictment says, Shoemaker had the hospital pay $40,000 to repair a mobile home he owned 100 miles away, in Ackerman, Miss. Shoemaker then allegedly used the home for outpatient psychiatric services for an unrelated hospital, Choctaw County Medical Center.