Two executives with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest health care chain, were found guilty today of defrauding Medicare and other government insurance programs of nearly $3 million.

The jury acquitted another executive and could not reach a verdict on a fourth defendant.

The trial resulted from a six-state investigation of Nashville-based Columbia/HCA facilities over their billing practices for Medicare, Medicaid and CHAMPUS, tax-supported health programs for the disabled, elderly, poor and military.

After the investigation began in 1997, Columbia/HCA ousted its top executives, stopped an aggressive hospital acquisition program and began a major downsizing, trimming from a high of 345 facilities to its current level of 236. The company, which has operations in 31 states, England and Sweden, has been negotiating a settlement with federal authorities.

Jay Jarrell and Robert Whiteside were found guilty of conspiring to defraud and of defrauding the tax-supported health-insurance programs. Michael Neeb was acquitted.

The jury could not reach a verdict on Carl Lynn Dick. Prosecutors said they would decide next week whether to seek another trial for him.

Jarrell and Whiteside were found guilty of six of seven counts. They were each found not guilty on one count of trying to obstruct a Medicare auditor.

The two men face maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. They are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15.