Federal trial continues

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 24, 2012

      By Billy Davis

Courtroom testimony by Dr. Robert Corkern consumed the Friday morning portion of a federal criminal trial now under way in Oxford.

Corkern described his 2005 purchase of Tri-Lakes Medical Center and the operation of the hospital as a non-profit under his watch. He also spent a good portion of the morning describing monies that were wired to himself and to former hospital executive Ray Shoemaker.

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Corkern testified he was unaware at the time that Shoemaker had sought a $250,000 payment from a line of credit for the hospital.

Transfer of the $250,000 from GE Capital to Tri-Lakes, then to Shoemaker’s own business, is one of the federal charges Shoemaker is disputing in front of the federal jury.

Corkern told jurors a transfer of $291,000 to himself was reimbursement for earnest money for the hospital’s purchase.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted Corkern for the wire transfer but the charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement with federal authorities. 

Corkern admitted in a plea hearing in January that he wrote a $25,000 check to David Chandler to gain $400,000 in county funds that Chandler transferred to Tri-Lakes.

Corkern also testified to jurors that Chandler, the former county administrator, pressured him over time to accept the transfer. Chandler also threatened to “hurt” the hospital, said the doctor.

Even though Chandler had extorted him, “You don’t write out a check to a county official,” Corkern told the court. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mims questioned Corkern, who was subpoenaed as a witness for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Defense attorneys Michael Heilman, representing Shoemaker, and Robert Michael, representing Lee Garner, cross-examined the doctor.

Watch for more coverage of the ongoing federal trial in the Tuesday, February 28 issue of The Panolian.