Factoid war evolves to Federal Court - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Factoid war evolves to Federal Court

 January 24, 2007

Albany --  One of the authors of the Phoebe Factoids is fighting back. Certified Public Accountant Charles Rehberg, the office manager for Albany Surgical PC, is suing District Attorney Ken Hodges.   In a federal lawsuit,  Rehberg says he was wrongfully indicted on bogus criminal charges.

He says the D. A.'s office "maliciously" and "intentionally" abused its power. He also says D.A. Ken Hodges over-stepped his power when he subpoenaed BellSouth phone records to find out who was behind the "Factoids," then turned that information over to Phoebe.

Rehberg authored the Factoids--faxes sent anonymously that criticized the hospital management.

Hodges says Rehberg and Doctor John Bagnato sent racially charged faxes to African American leaders that incited harassment and bad feelings toward Phoebe.

Rehberg says the D. A.'s  office was doing Phoebe a "favor."    

"The D. A.'s  office worked with civilians and gave them information they never should have had," Charles Rehberg said. "My rights were violated. What happened was terribly wrong, and we want to make sure whatever went wrong in the district attorney's office is fixed," says Rehberg.

"The claims as I understand them have no basis in fact. Mr. Rehberg was indicted by several grand juries here after they heard evidence of what he and others were involved with. The fact that he's sued, I'm not worry about it. The state will defend the lawsuit and I expect we'll win," says Hodges.

Rehberg says the D. A.'s office "engineered" the charges by providing the grand jury with information not supported by any facts or evidence. The suit says the indictments against Rehberg were returned based on testimony from one person, D. A. Investigator James Paulk.

The suit says Paulk later admitted he had no evidence of the charges against Rehberg, but that it was not uncommon for him and other D.A. investigators to testify without adequate knowledge or preparation.

The suit names D. A. Ken Hodges, D. A. Investigator Jim Paulk, and Houston County D. A. Kelly Burke, who presented the case to the grand jury.

Dougherty County, the county for which Hodges is District Attorney, is also named as a defendant.

The indictments against Rehberg were thrown out by a judge. Rehberg isn't asking for specific damages, instead he hopes this case will bring about change in the D. A.'s office.

Hodges says Rehberg is only "after money."

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