Factoid hunt cost plenty - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Factoid hunt cost plenty

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April 25, 2006

Albany -- Court documents show that Phoebe Putney Hospital has spent close to one million dollars pursuing the authors of those Phoebe Factoids.

Recently unsealed court documents also show continued lavish spending by Phoebe execs with a quarter of a million dollars spent on hunting, fishing and golfing trips.

Phoebe defends its costly battle against the Factoid authors, saying it's designed to prevent not for profit Hospitals from losing money.

Attorneys spent the day going through Court documents unsealed Monday. They show Phoebe Putney Hospital was billed for more than $600,000 by the Baudino Law Firm in Iowa to fight the people who wrote those revealing Phoebe Factoids.

More than $225,000 in bills from private investigators in the case. More than $12,000 in bills in 2003 from Presten Technical, experts in listening devices and surveillance equipment.

Defense Attorney Ralph Scoccimaro said, "They have endless pockets, and they have shown a penchant for spending that money."

Phoebe says the Factoid authors are working with Mississippi lawyer Richard Scruggs, trying to win millions of dollars from community hospitals in lawsuits, and Phoebe had to protect itself.

"Whether it's defense of the lawsuits having to do with Mr. Scruggs who sues hundreds of not for profit hospitals in the country, these are funds expended and that could be far better spent," said Phoebe Spokesperson Jackie Ryan.

The Judge also ruled that Charles Rehberg had to turn over documents he wanted kept sealed.

"Mr. Rehberg through his attorney resisted a complete lifting of that seal as it pertained to documents he would have to provide," Ryan said. "And does not want the public to know the whole truth, apparently."

Rehberg's attorney says prosecutors will use that evidence against him. Rehberg, Dr. John Bagnato, and Mississippi Private Detective Jim Bowman are charged with harassing phone calls and battery. Ralph Scoccimaro said "It's clear that Phoebe financed the investigation and is now financing the prosecution. We have proof of that."

The Judge said he wants to go to trial in September. Meanwhile, Phoebe continues to spend huge amounts of money to fight legal battles against the Factoid Authors.

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