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Canada says accused fraudster inadmissible

VANCOUVER - A former hospital CEO wanted in the United States for bilking the medicaid system out of tens of millions of dollars should be declared inadmissible to Canada and sent back to face trial, say immigration officials.

Peter G. Rogan, the disgraced former owner of Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, appeared before an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator in Vancouver on Monday.

Rogan was detained by Canada Border Services Agency on May 26, 2008, at Vancouver's airport as he returned from a business trip to China. Joanna Vasilekas, the Canadian border agent, seized his passport and ordered him detained because he posed a flight risk.

"One of the things to consider that would be in line with that allegation, would be to basically prevent Canada from being used as a safe haven by persons who are facing criminal proceedings in another country," Vasilekas told the hearing.

Tamara Duncan, Rogan's lawyer, questioned why he was order detained.

"There's no evidence that he's a danger to the public. He's a guy in his 60s, with no criminal record, accused of committing perjury, correct?"

"Yes, based on the documents," Vasilekas replied.

The board heard that a report had already been prepared on Rogan and authorities knew he was arriving on that flight.

A few days prior, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a grand jury indictment against Rogan alleging obstruction of justice and perjury.

Rogan came to Vancouver in 2006 and applied for permanent residency. That same year, the U.S. Government won a $64-million judgment against him related to fraudulent claims for health-care services.

Canadian immigration officials are arguing that Rogan is criminally inadmissible to Canada.

Rogan once owned the Edgewater Hospital and continued to control the operation though a management company even after he sold it.

In 2001, four doctors, a vice-president and the management company pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the payment of kickbacks for patient referrals, and charges for medically unnecessary hospital admissions and services to the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs. The hospital was bankrupt by 2002.

Authorities did not immediately file criminal charges against Rogan but pursued the civil lawsuit.

A U.S. District court awarded the government $64 million in September 2006, and found that Rogan "testified falsely, destroyed documents and obstructed justice." The bank that had backed Edgewater, Dexia Credit Local, won a separate $124-million judgment.

That same year, Rogan came to Canada and applied for permanent residency.

U.S. authorities allege that between 2002 and October 2010, Rogan and his lawyer conspired to obstruct justice in both the federal government case and the bank case.

They believe that Rogan set up a trust in the Bahamas, the Rogan Trust, so he wouldn't lose the money to a court judgment. He denied in court that he controlled the trust, which authorities believe distributed more than $11 million to Rogan and his wife between 2002 and 2006.

At his detention hearing, Rogan's lawyer argued it is improper for Canadian authorities to use the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act — and not extradition — to return someone to the United States to face trial.

Gregory Zuck, a hearings officer for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Rogan's detention hearings, said the agency viewed the former health-care CEO as a fugitive.

"So you believe that if someone doesn't write a cheque to satisfy a civil judgment once that judgment is rendered, he's a fugitive?" Duncan asked.

"No ... there was not just him writing a cheque. There was a criminal complaint," Zuck said, adding that he believed Rogan might not show up for future hearings.

"In my view Mr. Rogan had the financial resources to charter a jet plane and go wherever he wanted to go."

Rogan was not aware when he was detained in Canada that criminal charges had been laid, Duncan said.

If he is returned to face trial, Rogan a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Five days have been scheduled for his admissibility hearing.

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