Shoemaker, Corkern 9-25-12

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2012

Shoemaker sentenced to 55 months at hearing

By Billy Davis

Ray Shoemaker, the former Tri-Lakes Medical Center executive, was sentenced to 55 months in a federal prison and a $10,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Monday in Oxford.

Batesville physician Robert Corken was set to be sentenced, too, but the sentencing failed to occur after the doctor and his attorneys emerged from chambers.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Let’s go,” Corkern said to an entourage of supporters who stood to their feet and walked out with the doctor.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment about what happened in chambers or confirm whether the doctor’s sentencing was delayed.

Shoemaker, now living in Tupelo, was facing seven federal counts and 23 years in prison as he stood before the judge, but Biggers allowed the 55-month sentence to run concurrently on all counts.

Shoemaker’s sentence could be reduced even more if Shoemaker enters a drug treatment program for alcohol abuse, Biggers said from the bench.

Shoemaker was represented at his sentencing by attorneys Steve Farese and Mike Hailman.

Before sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Clayton Dabbs reminded the court that Shoemaker had schemed to take money meant for Tri-Lakes, had lied to an FBI agent, and had taken  bribe money from David Chandler, the former county administrator.

A two-year federal investigation that nabbed Chandler early on eventually led to Shoemaker and Corkern.

Federal prosecutors alleged Shoemaker and Corkern used a line of credit at Tri-Lakes to divert $250,000 and $291,000 respectively to their own accounts.

Shoemaker was also convicted in a kickback scheme with businessman Lee Garner. Defense attorneys got Garner’s conviction overturned, which dropped some charges against Shoemaker.

At the sentencing, attorneys for Shoemaker tried to pin the transferred funds on the late David Vance, arguing that he was working under orders of Corkern.

An email from Vance requesting the wire transfer did not mention Shoemaker by name, attorneys claimed.

“You’re asking for the transfer to be disregarded?” Biggers asked.

“Yes, Your Honor,” Farese replied.

Dabbs told the court that the defense attorneys were arguing the wrong point, since federal prosecutors charged Shoemaker with conspiracy, a charge unrelated to wiring the money.

Biggers denied the objection and the count remained.

Allowed to speak to the court, Shoemaker was sobbing as he told Biggers he had aspired to be involved in politics, to improve healthcare, and to be a good husband.

“I have failed at all three,” he said.

Dabbs mentioned that Shoemaker has three DUI convictions and is charged with a fourth, a felony.

Farese said his client has been getting help for alcohol abuse and said the DUI arrests happened after Shoemaker was being investigated and was “under stress and strain.”

Biggers allowed Shoemaker to return November 1 to report to prison.