After Scott stepped down, Frist Jr. returned as chairman and CEO. He called on longtime friend and colleague Jack O. Bovender, Jr. to help him turn the company around. Frist and Bovender, who became CEO in 2001, pulled off what Fortune magazine called a remarkable corporate rescue.[13] In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies. They admitted systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and filing false data about use of hospital space.

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