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Former Edgewater Hospital exec pleads guilty

Peter Rogan avoided his return to the United States for years.

The indicted ex-owner of Edgewater Hospital and Medical Center moved to Canada in 2006, fought extradition and finally returned to Chicago in June to face 2008 criminal charges stemming from the operation of his now-shuttered hospital.

Now Rogan, 69, has pleaded guilty to perjury in a deal with federal prosecutors that could net him as little as a year behind bars. He admitted Tuesday to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber that he lied about his ability to control a trust fund in the Bahamas as the government tried to collect on a $64.3 million judgment against him.

“I am pleading guilty,” Rogan said as he stood, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with his lawyers by his side.

When Rogan first returned to Chicago this year, prosecutors said Rogan faced a maximum 50 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The perjury charge he pleaded guilty to Tuesday carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine, Leinenweber noted. However, the judge accepted a deal with prosecutors in which Rogan expects to serve between 12 and 21 months and pay no fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Boutros said Tuesday that prosecutors will seek the full 21-month punishment during Rogan’s sentencing hearing, which is set for Oct. 14.

Boutros said Rogan filed his false affidavit on Dec. 21, 2006, claiming he had no control over the trust fund. It read, “I have no control over the Irrevocable Trust or its distribution to the beneficiaries . . . ,” according to the plea agreement.

But Boutros said a “secret, hidden letter of wishes” actually spelled out Rogan’s intentions for the money. Signed by Rogan, it contained a very specific instruction, according to Rogan’s plea deal: “Please distribute all of the income of the Trust to me upon receipt by the Trust.”

The prosecutor called this week’s plea agreement with Rogan a “global resolution” to a saga that has lasted more than a decade. It also required prosecutors to ask U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly to dismiss a contempt proceeding he oversaw against Rogan. Kennelly obliged later Tuesday afternoon. If Kennelly had refused to go along with the deal, Boutros said Rogan would have had a right to withdraw his guilty plea.

Edgewater Hospital closed in 2001 and entered into bankruptcy the following year after four doctors, a vice president and the management company running the hospital pleaded guilty to federal health-care fraud charges involving the payment of kickbacks for patient referrals. In turn, those patients got hospital tests and other services that weren’t medically necessary.

Rogan wasn’t charged criminally at the time, but in 2002, the government sued him for filing millions of dollars in false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. The government won a $64.3 million judgment, and a judge found Rogan lied on the stand, destroyed documents and obstructed justice. Another $124 million judgment against him in favor of a bank ultimately brought the total sought from the former hospital executive to more than $188 million.

The government went after money it believed Rogan held in offshore accounts, but Rogan said he had no control over the money. The government charged him criminally with lying about that.

The feds say that offshore money was used to pay for Rogan’s wife’s expenses as well as service and maintenance of a 48-foot boat named “Fringe Benefit.”

Rogan moved to Vancouver in 2006 and was arrested there in 2008 by the Canadian Border Services Agency when he returned from a trip to China. He had been free on bond but fought his extradition back to the United States. He finally surrendered to federal marshals in mid-June.