D.A. criticized for helping hospital with subpoena - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

D.A. criticized for helping hospital with subpoena

Albany -- Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges helped Phoebe Putney Hospital go after the author of the Phoebe Factoids.

 Hodges admits he took information gained by a grand jury criminal subpoena and gave it to the hospital. Tonight, some legal experts are quoted as saying his actions are "unusual and possibly inappropriate." And others questions whether big money bought special favors from the prosecutor.

Phoebe Factoids started in 2003, anonymously criticizing Phoebe Putney Hospital's business practices. Charles Rehberg, business administrator for Phoebe Chief of Surgery Dr. John Bagnato, was the whistle blower.

Now it turns out Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges used a grand jury subpoena to track him down. Scoccimaro said "Then as soon as the information was obtained through the telephone providers, they turned this information to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and did nothing else."

Hodges said "There is nothing that I have done that is unethical."

 But Ralph Scoccimaro disagrees. Hodges received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from people who work for the Hospital. And Hodges' wife was recently hired by Phoebe. Scoccimaro said "We're just looking at the facts, but it appears that a favor was done."

Phoebe complained that the faxes were phone harassment, and Hodges said that's why his office looked into a criminal complaint. Hodges said "we always share information about the case, if it won't jeopardize the case, with the victim of the crime."

Scoccimaro said "If they were really prosecuting Mr Rehberg, going ahead with the prosecution, they turned it over to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, who then filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Mr. Rehberg."

Phoebe has dropped their lawsuit against Rehberg. Rehberg is counter suing Phoebe for civil rights violations and fraud. Rehberg's attorney says Hodges is holding criminal charges over his client's head. Scoccimaro said "It's going to be difficult to do it with the District Attorney's office sitting in the wings saying they are going to prosecute."

 Hodges said "If Mr. Rehberg or Mr. Bagnato did nothing wrong, they don't have to worry about criminal prosecution. I don't understand what the worry would be if they have done nothing wrong."

 Charles Rehberg says he will continue his lawsuit against Phoebe, but his lawyer says he must guard not to say anything that could bring on criminal prosecution.

Dr. John Bagnato, who also helped put out the Phoebe Factoids, said he thought the District Attorney's actions were "inappropriate."

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