Articles Posted in Federal Crime

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Six people were arrested in a drug raid Tuesday after neighbors complained about needles in their yards and suspicious traffic in and out of a home on Tanager Road.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant was executed at the home, and investigators found hypodermic needles, glass pipes and other drug paraphernalia, along with traces of methamphetamine and bottles filled with unprescribed Xanax pills.
Deputies claim that several of those arrested tried to hide pills, pipes and plastic baggies of meth during the raid.
Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have handled dozens of cases involving drug crimes and as former prosecutors, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to defend your freedom. We have an impressive record of results and have defended individuals facing an array of serious drug crimes charges. We fight hard to protect your freedom.

We provide legal representation to those facing drug charges related to:

Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the country and the police and prosecutors involved in your case will do everything they can to see that you are convicted. By contacting our Florida Drug Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton, you taking the first step toward maximizing your potential for a positive outcome.

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A Clearwater doctor has pleaded guilty to one count of health-care fraud and has agreed to surrender her DEA registration number, her Florida medical license and to a permanent exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the justice department.

The 66-year-old woman violated a Florida law that requires doctors to perform an in-person office visit and examine the patient before prescribing a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the Department of Justice.

The woman owned a pain management clinic on Druid Road East in Clearwater.

From as early as July 2011 through December 2017, she billed Medicare for face-to-face patient visits to prescribe controlled substances like oxycodone, but some of those visits didn’t take place on those dates, according to the Department of Justice. Instead, she filled the prescriptions for patients’ families who came by her office, without examining the patients.

She also submitted at least $51,500 false and fraudulent Medicare claims, according to a department of justice news release.

The case was investigated by the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.

Being a healthcare professional means you are subject to extensive regulations and civil statutes. If you fail to comply with the current health care regulations, you can expect to be the target of a federal prosecution. Our Tampa Bay Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight allegations of health care fraud, including allegations relating to:

  • Medicare fraud
  • Medicaid fraud
  • Billing fraud
  • Kickbacks and Gratuities
  • Bribes
  • Conflicts of interest

Prosecutors also file charges against health care providers who allegedly lie about the number of patients they treat or the types of services they perform. We are ready and able to defend doctors and other healthcare professionals who find themselves wrapped up in such inquiries.

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A Key West firefighter was caught with cocaine at work, according to police.

The 26-year-old was arrested Friday on a felony charge of cocaine possession after a police dog alerted officers to a locker inside a bedroom where the man was staying.

The K-9 also sniffed out the man’s truck where police claim they found an unspecified amount of cocaine.

Possession of any amount of cocaine is a felony.

The man was suspended until an investigation is complete.

The arrest came after Key West police and Homeland Security agents did a sweep of all three Key West fire stations at the same time Friday. They were acting on a tip about narcotics received by the Key West police’s special investigations unit.

Possession of a controlled substance, like cocaine, is a serious crime in Florida. This felony offense carries significant penalties if you are convicted. Simply being accused of possessing cocaine does not mean you are automatically guilty. There can be several potential defense strategies available in a drug possession case. Our South Florida Drug Possession Lawyers can investigate your case to determine whether the search that uncovered the drugs was legal. We will examine the warrant that was issued to authorize the search, if one even existed, and we will make sure every move made by authorities was legal. If they overstepped in any way, we will work towards getting any evidence illegally obtained thrown out.

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A Columbus doctor has been indicted as part of the nation’s largest health-care fraud enforcement action by the federal government, according to reports.

The 44-year-old Columbus podiatrist was indicted on June 19 in the Southern District of Florida and charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive health-care kickbacks and three counts of receiving health-care kickbacks.

The man’s charges are part of a broader investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and includes 601 defendants across 58 federal districts, including 76 doctors, as well as nurses and other licensed medical professionals. They are accused of participating in health-care fraud schemes involving approximately $2 billion in false billings.

According to the man’s indictment, he allegedly received kickback payments from PGRX, a Weston, Fla.-based business that recruited and paid doctors to prescribe compounded medications for TRICARE and private commercial insurance beneficiaries.

During the course of the conspiracy, the man and his co-conspirators allegedly signed false medical director and speaker agreements in order to conceal that PGRX was paying the defendant for writing prescriptions, according to the indictment. As a result of these prescriptions, TRICARE made payments to Atlantic Pharmacy, a pharmacy located in the Southern District of Florida.

Medicare fraud is classified as a felony as well as a federal crime that carries some pretty steep penalties, both criminal and civil. The monetary liabilities can be huge. The possibility of being held accountable for Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and other health care fraud means you need to be proactive in your defense strategy and seek expert legal help right away. You could be branded a criminal and lose everything you have worked so hard to create in your career as a medical professional.

Regardless of how organized your practice and its operations are, the chances of being audited by Medicare are quite real, especially if you have a successful practice and submit high volume claims to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Keep this in mind: according to government statistics, claims of approximately $50 billion per year are considered suspicious and subject to Medicare fraud investigation.

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A physician and two nurses have been convicted of health care fraud in what authorities claim was a $12 million plus Medicare billing scam.

On Friday, a federal jury in Dallas convicted a 70-year-old doctor and a 47-year-old nurse of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Both were also convicted of three counts of health care fraud.

Another nurse, 42, was convicted of four counts of health care fraud.

Prosecutors believe the scheme ran from 2007 through 2015. The trio was convicted of defrauding Medicare through false claims through a home health agency and a physician house call company. Evidence showed medically unnecessary home health services were ordered and often not provided.

Sentencing is pending.

The government is aggressively cracking down on Medicare fraud throughout the country like never before. These cases usually mean the government has been investigating a clinic, doctor or facility for months, maybe even years. The government performs a hard investigation into patients’ procedures and billing to find any errors. At Whittel & Melton, our Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys are here to protect you from the consequences of a conviction. We will help you fight Medicare fraud charges head on.

The most common types of Medicare fraud charges include:

  • False invoicing
  • Improper coding
  • Billing for medical services not provided to the patient
  • Charging for unbundled services
  • Charging for medical devices not provided
  • Billing for patients that do not exist
  • Multiple billings of the same procedure

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Todd Macaluso, a San Diego lawyer who once represented Casey Anthony, was sentenced to federal prison for 15 years for plotting to pilot a plane full of cocaine.

He was sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn federal court, months after he was found guilty of being part of an international drug ring.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour before reaching a guilty verdict in November 2017.

The 55-year-old was found guilty of agreeing to fly 1,500 kilograms of cocaine from Ecuador to Honduras aboard his Falcon 10 in 2016, prosecutors said. The plan was for Macaluso to bring the narcotics to Honduras, where Mexican traffickers would buy the drugs. He was going to get $200,000 as his flyboy fee, but he was arrested in Haiti before anything could happen.

From 2009 to 2010, Macaluso represented Anthony, a Florida mother charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. The child’s body was never found. Anthony was acquitted in 2011.

Florida law defines cocaine trafficking as a person knowingly transporting, delivering, making, buying, selling, or actually or constructively possessing 28 grams or more of any mixture that includes cocaine. The mandatory minimum sentence depends on the weight of the cocaine that you are accused of trafficking.

In Florida, you are looking at the following consequences if convicted of trafficking cocaine:

  • 28 grams-200 grams: 3 years in prison, $50,000 fine.
  • 200 grams-400 grams: 7 years in prison, $100,000 fine.
  • 400 grams-150kg: 15 years in prison, $250,000 fine.
  • More than 150kg : Life in prison.

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A chain of podiatry clinics in St. Louis settled with the federal government for $125,000 for Medicare fraud on false claims from 2010 to 2016.

The clinics apparently knowingly billed Medicare for medically necessary toenail removals, when the services provided were routine nail clippings that are not covered by the government insurance program for people older than 65 and others with disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The president of the company issued the following statement:

After becoming aware almost five years ago of some billing errors, we successfully worked with the government to correct this. At all times we have been, and remain in good standing with Medicare. We appreciate that the government worked constructively and cooperatively with us to resolve this matter.

The podiatry clinic has six locations in the St. Louis area: Brentwood/Clayton, Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, Shrewsbury, St. Peters and Ballwin/Valley Park.

Under the settlement, the clinic will repay the government $125,000 for the false claims. The company also signed a three-year agreement with the government for extra oversight in its compliance with Medicare regulations.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced the settlement on Monday.

Toenail care for older Americans is a common source of Medicare fraud. About one-fourth of the podiatry services paid out by Medicare are for nail debridement (removal of a diseased toenail), according to a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.

The investigation found that nearly one-fourth of the nail debridements paid out by Medicare were not justified medically, for an estimated $51.2 million in inappropriate payments in 2000. An additional $45.6 million was paid out in unnecessary related services, according to the report.

Medicare fraud is a very serious charge that carries very real civil and criminal consequences, including stiff monetary fines and the possibility for jail time. If you are a Florida doctor, medical clinic, hospital, or even a recipient of Medicare benefits, and you have been accused of Medicare fraud, you need representation from an experienced and and qualified Medicare Fraud Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton who is familiar with these types of cases.

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The Department of Justice recently announced that a Las Vegas medical practice will pay $1.5 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act through illegal billing.

The settlement involved allegations that from January 1, 2006 through May 31, 2011, the practice violated the False Claims Act by billing federal healthcare programs, including Medicare and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for surgical services that were never actually rendered to its cardiac patients.

The allegations further state that the practice billed for more expensive surgical, evaluation and management services than were provided.

No liability has been determined in this case.

The second case comes from suburban Illinois where a physician has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly receiving almost $1 million in Medicare and private insurer payments for services that apparently never happened.

The physician is the subject of a 12-count indictment alleging that he submitted fraudulent claims for medical tests and examinations that were never performed, as well as used some patients’ names without their knowledge to submit fraudulent claims, according to the DOJ. The indictment claims that from 2008 to 2013, the physician fraudulently obtained, or caused his clinic to obtain, at least $950,000 in payments from Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

The man is charged with seven counts of healthcare fraud, three counts of making false statements in relation to a healthcare matter, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  

Health care providers and institutions have a wide range of rules and guidelines they must abide by. Many people forget that these facilities are businesses and must operate as so while providing medical care to patients. Because of ever changing criminal laws and extensive regulations and civil statutes, we have seen an upward rise of doctors, hospitals and medical professionals subject to allegations of health care fraud in the recent years.

Prosecutors actively pursue health care providers who allegedly lie about the number of patients they treat or the types of services they perform, as well as for referring patients to a facility in which the physicians have a hidden financial interest. On that same note, a doctor who receives payment from a company whose medical products they use could potentially face federal prosecution if the payment is used as a kickback or bribe to keep the doctor using the product in question. Medical device distributors and manufacturers can also find themselves under fire for healthcare fraud in these situations. The reality is that there are a plethora of potential pitfalls that plague health care workers and providers on a daily basis.

If you have found yourself ensnared in a federal health care or Medicare fraud investigation, let our Florida Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton guide you through what to expect. We handle civil and criminal health care fraud matters throughout the state of Florida.

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A 27-year-old Sorrento man was arrested on child pornography charges Friday, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The man was booked into the Lake County Jail with bail set at $50,000, the FDLE said.

According to an agency spokeswoman, agents began investigating the man in February after determining suspected child-porn files had been downloaded through an IP address associated with his house.

Agents apparently searched the house, allegedly finding at least 10 files of child pornography on his laptop. At least one of the files depicted a child younger than 5, according to reports. The laptop was seized for a more-thorough search.

The man will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is directed by the Florida Constitution to prosecute crimes that impact two or more judicial circuits in the State of Florida. Working regularly with state and federal counterparts, the office focuses on complex, often large scale, organized criminal activity.

If you are under investigation for child pornography, our Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to refrain from speaking to law enforcement until you have spoken with us. Anything you say or do prior to an actual arrest can be used against you in a court of law. Federal investigators are highly trained to gather confessions from those accused of sex crimes, such as child pornography. Standard protocol for police is to locate suspects and make a surprise visit to request an interview. We want you to know you have rights and can politely decline their request to discuss these matters until legal counsel is present.

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Federal authorities have charged the pastor of a Texas megachurch and a Louisiana financial planner with defrauding elderly investors out of more than $1 million.

The two men were charged Friday with six counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed civil charges against the men for the alleged fraud, which occurred from 2013 to 2014.

One man, 64, is the senior pastor of a church Houston, which is described by the SEC as “one of the largest Protestant churches in the U.S.” The Louisian man, 55, is the manager of a financial group in Shreveport.

They’re accused of bilking 29 mostly elderly investors by selling them Chinese bonds issued before the revolution of 1949, saying that their historical value made them “worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars” according to a court document from the SEC.

The bonds have no investment value.

The SEC says the bonds have been in default since 1939, and the “current Chinese government refuses to recognize the debt.”

The funds collected were used to pay for personal expenses, including mortgage payments and luxury automobiles.

The DOJ says they allegedly defrauded the investors out of more than $1 million. The SEC places that figure higher, at $3.4 million.

The maximum sentence, if they’re convicted, is 20 years with a $1 million fine, as well as restitution and forfeiture, according to the DOJ.

The crime of money laundering uses financial transactions to conceal the origin of money obtained through illegal activity, to make it appear that the money came from a legitimate source. This is a very serious offense that can carry severe penalties, including steep fines and jail time if you are found guilty.

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