Hospital exec wore body microphone for FBI in Illinois corruption probe

Hospital exec wore body microphone for FBI in Illinois corruption probe

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CHICAGO - A suburban hospital CEO who went undercover to help a federal investigation that led to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest said Wednesday that she believes that state officials have blocked a proposed expansion project in an act of revenge.

Pamela Davis, president and CEO of Edward Hospital in Naperville, told reporters on a conference call that she believes staff members at the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board have been cool to her because they resent what she did.

"I actually believe there is revenge occurring - I actually do," Davis said.

Davis was the first to blow the whistle on what federal prosecutors say was major corruption on the planning board, an obscure panel that has life and death power over millions of dollars in hospital expansion plans.

She contacted the FBI after being warned that the planning board would deny approval of a new medical office building unless the hospital used a certain contractor and investment firm.

Davis agreed to wear a hidden recording device during her conversations with people involved in the alleged shakedown to help the FBI gather evidence in an investigation that five years later led to Blagojevich's arrest.

Blagojevich now is charged with scheming to trade or sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama's election as president. One of the governor's top fundraisers, businessman Tony Rezko, has been convicted of scheming to raise millions of dollars in kickbacks and now awaits his sentence.

The FBI says Davis's help was vital in getting the investigation started.

"The assistance provided by Ms. Davis was invaluable and demonstrated her character and commitment to public integrity," the special agent in charge of the Chicago office, Robert D. Grant, said recently.

Davis said she believes her civic-minded act has poisoned some state employees against her project.

She said staff members of the planning board who are left over from the Rezko era "continue to act in a very mean and hostile way" toward the same project she was attempting to get approval for five years ago - a new hospital in Plainfield.

A spokeswoman for the planning board could not be reached for comment.

Davis made it clear she was referring to staff members - and not voting members of the board - and she did not accuse any of them of a crime.

She said they seem to resent the fact that "they did not stand up when I did and I do feel it is revenge."

Davis said the decision to act was easy. She said she had long read accounts in history of people "who stood up and made a difference and did the right thing."

But she said acting as an FBI mole and wearing a wire was not easy. Since she had to wear the wire all the time, there was a danger that her personal conversations with friends and co-workers could become part of the case and end up being played in a public court proceeding.

She found herself spending more time in her office with the door closed just to protect those around her.

Davis said she lost weight, had blood pressure trouble, felt isolated and eventually was in fear as she stepped into the unfamiliar role of an FBI mole.

Her fingernails became paper thin and dropped off under the pressure.

"It became depressing to me and I began to think maybe the world isn't good and maybe the systems don't work the way I thought they did," she said.

Although she is mostly over those feelings now, they were intense at the time, she said.

"I questioned everyone and everything - their intentions," Davis said.

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