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 SIXTEEN
Trial Opening

It was hard to imagine that three years of hard work by government investigators and me would finally culminate in a criminal trial. It was even more difficult to grasp that the trial would pit federal prosecutors against four of my former colleagues. When I had begun working at Columbia/ HCA in 1993, I feared and respected all four men. Now, on the first day of the trial—May 4, 1999—my feelings were mixed and unresolved. There was sadness coupled with regret, yet I felt genuinely hopeful that a flawed and broken system could be repaired.

Billed as the FBI's largest healthcare fraud investigation, the high-profile trial would be closely watched throughout the industry. U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew would preside over the Tampa courtroom as the defendants—Jay Jarrell, 43; Robert (Bob) Whiteside, 48; Michael Neeb, 36; and Carl Lynn Dick, 54—accompanied by their legal teams, faced Assistant United States Attorneys Bob Mosakowski, Kathleen Haley, and Tony Peluso. Even though the trial focused on the alleged wrongdoing at only one of Columbia/HCA's hospitals, Fawcett Memorial, the government warned that it could call as many as sixty witnesses to the stand. Although I desperately wanted to watch the proceedings, as a witness in the case I was prohibited from attending the trial for fear that my testimony might be influenced by what I might hear in court.

While every minute seemed like an eternity 1,200 miles away in Milwaukee, I tried to concentrate on my job. That evening, Meagher told me about the trial's opening arguments. His recitation seemed so real that I

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