Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hurtgen indicted a second time

The U.S. attorney in Chicago today announced former Tommy Thompson aide and bond broker Nick Hurtgen has been indicted for a second time in an alleged kickback scheme involving Illinois hospitals.

A federal judge earlier this year dismissed similar charges, ruling prosecutors didn't present any evidence that he knew about the alleged illegal activity.

The indictment returned today by a federal grand jury reinstates the same charges, and prosecutors said it adds detail about Hurtgen's alleged role in the scheme. The charges include six counts of aiding and abetting mail and wire fraud and one court of extortion.

Prosecutors have alleged that Hurtgen was involved in the scheme with Stuart Levine, who was a member of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board that is required to sign off on any hospital project in that state before it could be built. They alleged Hurtgen told hospital authorities which construction firm to select if they wanted approval for a project, directing business to Jacob Kiferbaum.

Levine and Kiferbaum have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 yeas in prison and a fine.

Hurtgen attorney Stephen Hurley said he's surprised by the charges and plans to ask a federal judge to again dismiss the counts.

"The evidence hasn't changed. All that's changed is their characterization of it," Hurley said.

Hurley said he hasn't had any talks with prosecutors about a plea deal since the federal judge first dismissed the charges in March.

"We got it dismissed before, and I think we have an extraordinarily good chance that that's precisely what's going to happen again," he said.

*Read the DOJ statement:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=113069

*Read the indictment:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/071213_DOJ_Hurtgen.pdf

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