Matlock model to mash Phoebe - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Matlock model to mash Phoebe

February 16, 2006

Albany -- One of the country's top lawyers is preparing to do battle with Phoebe Putney Hospital. And famed criminal attorney Bobby Lee Cook has strong words over criminal charges against their critics.

The case against the authors of the Phoebe Factoids went back to a grand jury. They're being prosecuted because of a series of faxes they wrote that exposed huge salaries, extravagant trips, and excessive spending by Phoebe honchos.

After criticism that John Bagnato and Charles Reberg were being prosecuted for crimes never even reported as crimes, the D. A. took the case back to a grand jury. Felony charges were dropped but they'll still be tried for misdemeanors.

Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said, "The Grand Jury returned a second indictment continuing that the sending out of those factoids on different occasions to different people broke the law."

And Bobby Lee Cook, one of the nation's foremost criminal lawyers, will defend one of the hospital critics. "I like to get up every morning and kick somebody that needs it," Cook said.

Mississippi Private Investigator Jim Bowman has hired Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville. He's the man who was the inspiration for the TV series Matlock , and he plans to expose Phoebe Putney Hospital.

Cook said, "When this case is tried, we are going to kick the hell out of them."

This case was taken back before a grand jury because the first indictments didn't even have dates for any of the charges. In fact, no police reports were ever even filed by the people who were named as "victims" in the original indictments.

The felony charges of burglary and aggravated assault against Bagnato, Rehberg, and Bowman were dropped. But they'll still be tried for harassing phone calls and simple assault.

Attorney Cook said, "This charge against Mr. Bowman has no basis whatsoever factually. It has no basis whatsoever legally."

And the defense attorneys say they will demand Phoebe Putney open their records about charges that were made in the Factoids to prove their innocence.

Judge Harry Altman from Thomasville will decide if the Hospital has to open its books in another hearing March 20th.

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