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Judge Won’t Dismiss Civil Fraud Suit

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A federal judge has denied a motion by a former Christus St. Vincent Hospital chief operating officer facing fraud charges to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him.

U.S. District Court Judge James Browning recently denied that a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Richard Crabtree on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.

A jury trial in the civil case is scheduled to take place in May 2013.

Crabtree was indicted on felony fraud charges in February for allegedly conspiring with his then-girlfriend, Loretta Mares, to defraud the Santa Fe hospital of about $3 million by directing hospital money to technology companies owned in part by Mares and her brothers. He has pleaded not guilty.

Crabtree’s motion sought dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Great American Insurance Co. that seeks to recover millions of dollars the insurer paid out for the hospital’s fraud losses.

Crabtree’s lawyers argued that a four-year statute of limitations expired before Great American filed the civil suit late last year.

The court filing said hospital officials were in fact tipped off about the alleged fraud scheme involving its COO as far back as nine years ago.

Hospital lawyers said claims hospital officials could have discovered the fraud scheme as early as 2003 are based on “a hodgepodge of unauthenticated and inadmissible documents.”

Crabtree’s motion was unusual in that his lawyers put into the record testimony and other evidence that pointed to wrongdoing by Crabtree long before he was fired from the hospital.

Documents filed by the hospital claimed that those involved in the alleged fraud scheme went to great lengths to conceal it, including hiring a college student to pose as an engineer.

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