September 12, 2000, Tuesday, METRO EDITION
Copyright 2000 The Roanoke Times & World News
Roanoke Times & World News

WHITE-COLLAR crime rarely prompts the outrage or draws the lengthy prison sentences of 
street crimes.

It leaves no violated or bleeding victim; its perpetrators are often church-going 
community leaders who stand before the judge wearing tailored suits and repentant 

Yet such financial crimes can devastate an entire community rather than robbing a lone 
victim. Their impact can last for years, stealing crucial services or a lifetime's 
savings through crimes invisible to their victims.

In Lee County, four prominent citizens have not only violated the trust of their 
neighbors. They have endangered the community's future by undermining a cornerstone of 
this rural region - its hospital.

The men - James Luther Davis, Richard Charles Norton, Charles Fugate and Michael 
Redman - helped to bankrupt the Lee County Community Hospital and defrauded government 
health-care programs through six years of elaborate schemes and kickbacks.

Today, the debt-ridden hospital has cut its staff and services and is struggling to 
stay open. Elderly patients and pregnant women must drive an hour to the next hospital 
for dialysis and obstetrics clinics, adding expense and risk to their care.

These four men acted not out of need, but out of greed. As prosperous professionals, 
they used a health-care system designed to care for their neighbors and the medically 
indigent to finance a Mercedes-Benz lifestyle.

Davis made this possible by consolidating in his own hands the jobs of hospital 
administrator, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, director of human 
resources and corporate compliance officer. Lee County's experience should be a 
cautionary tale for other communities that administrators, no matter how admired, need 
oversight and limits on their concentration of power.

One of the poorest counties in the state, Lee had hoped to attract new jobs with the 
long-awaited widening of U.S. 58 and the opening of a new federal prison. Now, its 
citizens worry that the hospital's shaky outlook could discourage new industries.

In determining punishment, the judge should keep in mind that these men who had 
tremendous potential to do good instead stole the jobs of 250 hospital workers, robbed 
many patients of local medical care and put at risk their community's hope for a 
brighter future.

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