Archive for the ‘Phoebe Putney’ Category

Phoebe Putney case makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court

From the Associated Press:

The Supreme Court will decide whether government officials who testify falsely while acting as a complaining witness have absolute immunity from civil lawsuits.

The high court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Charles Rehberg, who sent faxes criticizing the Phoebe Putney Health System, an influential Georgia hospital system.

Rehberg was arrested after investigator James Paulk of the Dougherty County District Attorney’s office testified to a grand jury that the accountant had harassed doctors.

Paulk, who started the investigation as a favor to hospital officials, later said he had no evidence and had not talked to any witnesses. The charges were dismissed.

Rehberg sued, but Paulk says he is protected by immunity because the claims took place while he was working as a government official.
Rehberg and Dr. John Bagnato, a prominent surgeon, also sued Ken Hodges, who was then the Dougherty County District Attorney and later unsuccessfully ran for …

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11th Circuit rules that Ken Hodges can’t be sued over Phoebe Putney case

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this afternoon that former Dougherty County prosecutor Ken Hodges can’t be sued by an Albany accountant who said he was wrongly prosecuted for his criticism of a local hospital system.

However, the court ruled that a federal lawsuit against Hodges’ chief investigator, James Paulk, could proceed. Paulk allegedly gave false grand jury evidence that led to the arrest of Charles Rehberg on charges of aggravated assault, burglary, and six counts of “harassing phone calls.”

The 11th Circuit ruling has political significance: Hodges is now a Democratic candidate for attorney general, to replace incumbent Thurbert Baker.

“I’m gratified by the court’s decision, and I look forward to continuing my public service to the people of Georgia,” Hodges said.

Rehberg and surgeon Dr. John Bagnato were indicted by a local grand jury on three occasions. All charges that stemmed from their sending of anonymous faxes that were critical of the Phoebe …

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Your morning jolt: A documentary and the race for attorney general

A documentary of two whistleblowers who began a 2003 fax campaign to expose the finances of Phoebe Putney Hospital Systems down in south Georia had its formal debut in Atlanta on Wednesday evening.

“Do No Harm” focuses on two Albany locals, accountant Charles Rehberg and surgeon John Bagnato. Their faxes described the hospital system’s generous executive salary structure, extensive political and business connections, and its financial holdings, including a Cayman Islands account.

Phoebe Putney filed a civil suit against both whistle-blowers, alleging defamation, fraud and racketeering. Then the fax-senders were indicted and booked on criminal charges of harassment, aggravated assault and burglary.

More details can be found here. The question has been whether “Do No Harm” and its story would become part of Georgia’s political dialogue. The answer, it appears, is yes.

Much of the documentary’s focus is on Ken Hodges, then the Dougherty County prosecutor. Hodges is now running …

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Your morning jolt: Think about Mary Norwood winning ATL race for mayor without a runoff

A poll has fallen into our hands, conducted by a reputable firm for a private company with an interest in who will be the next mayor of Atlanta.

It was performed in mid-September, so the results are slightly dated. But the survey of 600 city voters (MOE is plus-or-minus 4 percent) says we need to begin thinking seriously about the unthinkable:

Mary Norwood could win the Nov. 3 mayoral race without a runoff.

This poll shows the councilwoman running stronger against rivals Lisa Borders and Kasim Reed than anything we’ve seen previously. It has Norwood even taking a plurality of Atlanta’s African-American vote.

This is the analysis accompanying the poll that’s being passed around Atlanta’s business elite:

Norwood’s impressive support measures translate into a better than 2:1 lead over second-place Borders (41% Norwood, 19% Border/14% Reed). Norwood’s advantage is built on a 41 point lead with white voters and a surprising 8-point plurality among African-Americans. Despite a …

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A film placed —for the moment — out of harm’s way

Updated at 10 a.m. Monday: Links to several court documents added.

Georgia is on the verge of its very own Michael Moore moment. The question is whether that moment will be allowed to happen.

In September 2003, fax machines owned by Albany’s business and political elite began spitting out a series of anonymous newsletters that detailed the inner workings of the nonprofit Phoebe Putney Health System — southwest Georgia’s largest hospital group.

Based on publicly available documents, the “Phoebe Factoids” described the hospital system’s generous executive salary structure, extensive political and business connections, and its financial holdings, which included a Cayman Islands account.

Two locals, accountant Charles Rehberg and surgeon John Bagnato, ultimately copped to the faxes. The pair said they wanted to shed light on a hospital system that wasn’t fulfilling its charitable obligations as a tax-exempt entity.

Ex-FBI agents were sent to confront Rehberg. Phoebe Putney filed a …

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