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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A South Carolina hospital has been found guilty of collecting millions of dollars in false Medicare claims.

The Item of Sumter reports (http://bit.ly/10urxfq) a federal jury found Wednesday that Tuomey Healthcare System signed doctors to part-time contracts to ensure that they would get referral fees associated with those physicians' procedures.

Prosecutors said Tuomey collected $39 million in fraudulent Medicare claims. A judge has ordered both sides to discuss any additional damages.

Tuomey's lawyers argued the contracts were part of the hospital's effort to provide services to a medically underserved community.

In 2010, a jury rejected prosecutors' argument Tuomey jacked up profits by submitting fraudulent claims but ruled the hospital did break the law by its doctor agreements.

A judge later ordered a new trial but let the referral ruling stand.

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