Undercover CEO helps feds nab corrupt governor

Illinois hospital executive wears wire for FBI

March 19, 2012

Eight years after she led a double life as an FBI informant, one hospital executive said she felt closure as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reported to prison on Thursday to serve 14 years for corruption.

An undercover mission
Pamela Davis, president and CEO of Naperville-based Edward Hospital and Health Services, for eight months passed the FBI information about an alleged hospital shakedown that she collected while secretly wearing a wire. In a phone interview last week, Davis recalled delivering tapes to FBI agents at rendezvous sites—like department store makeup counters—and meeting with alleged schemers in restaurants. 

Davis first alerted the FBI after the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board in 2003 said they would deny Edward Hospital's proposal for a new medical building unless they used a specific contractor or investment firm. "This was a very strong-armed attempt for me to work with individuals who had no experience in building hospitals," Davis said. "The more I told them no, the more they put personal pressure on me."

According to TribLocal Naperville, Edward Health Ventures Vice President and President Bill Kottmann also secretly wore an FBI listening device. "I did not worry about wearing a wire, I feel strongly that individuals have to stand up and be counted or government doesn't work well," Davis said. "I'm proud that my colleague and I played a key role in exposing this corruption."

Wearing a wire takes its toll
However, she said going undercover took a tremendous personal toll, noting that it led to high blood pressure and feelings of isolation and distrust toward others. "I had felt so wronged. I felt health care … had been so toyed with, that there was a part of me that felt vindicated, that maybe people would understand something terrible had been happening."

According to the FBI, Davis' cooperation was invaluable to the investigation, which ultimately gathered enough evidence to convict Blagojevich on 17 counts of corruption. Blagojevich—who also was accused of selling President Barack Obama's senate seat—on Thursday reported to a federal prison in Colorado to serve his 14-year sentence.

"I do hold Blagojevich personally responsible for dragging Edward Hospital and me through the sludge of his corrupt administration," Davis said. "I'm glad he's going to jail, but I'm sick about all the corruption that has occurred in this state."

Although Edward Hospital never received approval to build the new medical building, the state in February approved a $63.7 million expansion of its existing campus. "Things have settled down dramatically with (the health planning board)," Davis said. "I think the board is now reviewing projects and acting responsibly" (Johnson, AP/Quad-City Times, 3/14; Jenco, TribLocal Naperville, 3/14; Wurst, Naperville Sun, 3/15; Wall, Fox Chicago News, 3/15; Pyke, Daily Herald, 3/14).

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