Undercover: How I Went from Company Man to FBI Spy--And Exposed the Worst Healthcare Fraud in U.S. History

By John W. Schilling | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Co-Conspirator

The subpoena issued by U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew arrived February 9, 1999, commanding me to appear in the Tampa federal court three months later. The government had my assurances that I would cooperate and testify in the criminal Columbia/HCA trial.

As the dust settled, Joe Ford introduced me to a new FBI agent, Michele Yaroma. She was the first and only agent on the case with any prior Medicare cost report experience. As I had innumerable times before with other government investigators, I briefed Yaroma on every aspect of my case, including the Fawcett interest issue and the reserve cost report practices. This time, though, it took less than an hour for me to realize that for the first time, a federal agent actually understood the concepts I presented. I knew she would prove valuable to the team.

“The criminal trial is set to begin the first week of May,” Ford said. He predicted that I would testify on the witness stand for an entire day. The Justice Department and FBI planned to fly me to Tampa several times to review documents and to prepare for the trial. Ford again warned that the defense attorneys would attack me brutally on the stand. “They will try to trick you. The defense will do anything to make you look bad. Remember to stay calm,” he advised.

It was not unusual for me to speak with Stephen Meagher or Peter Chatfield frequently throughout the duration of my lawsuit, often several times in a day. Sometimes the calls would be short; other times we spent hours on the phone. Since Meagher lived in San Francisco, the two-hour

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