Asking Questions 

IRS may be investigating Baptist case

IRS may be investigating Baptist case

An agent in the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service has begun asking questions about alleged illegal activity by former Baptist Hospital executives David Stringfield and Gerald Hemmer. That’s according to sources who say they have been contacted by the IRS. One person says he was interviewed about the two executives for several hours over the course of two days by an agent.

One law enforcement officer familiar with IRS investigations says it’s possible the IRS is merely “gathering information” and may not pursue the matter further.

Both Stringfield and Hemmer contend they’ve done nothing wrong. Neither Stringfield nor Hemmer has heard from the IRS, according to their spokespersons. In some cases, IRS criminal investigators are not required to notify the subject of their probe during its early stages. But any time questions are asked, experts say it can be troubling.

“When a criminal agent from the IRS calls asking questions about your client, it’s a serious matter,” says Mike Kaplan, tax attorney at Nashville-based Sherrard & Roe.

Stringfield was Baptist’s longtime chief executive officer and later paid board chairman until he was fired last October. Hemmer, formerly Baptist’s construction chief, was dismissed in December after it was revealed he had engaged in questionable real estate transactions at the hospital. (See “Sweet Deals Gone Sour,” Nashville Scene, Nov. 12, 1998.)

The IRS agent apparently took down names and telephone numbers of current and former Baptist employees who might have information of possible wrongdoing by Stringfield or Hemmer. The IRS and Baptist Hospital declined comment to the Scene.

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