Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

Published on:

A Gainesville doctor convicted of 162 counts of health care fraud for false billing and using drugs not approved in the United States was sentenced Friday to effectively serve one year in prison and to pay a fine of more than $1.13 million plus restitution.

The doctor, who had practices in Gainesville and Hawthorne, was convicted in May 2016 and sentenced Friday in federal court.

She was ordered to serve one year and one day in prison on each count. The terms will run concurrently. She will also serve three years’ of supervised release and perform 400 hour of community service. In addition to the fine, she was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

The woman was indicted in April 2014 on 210 counts of health care fraud and money laundering. She was charged with submitting fraudulent claims for unnecessary tests, buying drugs from outside the U.S. not approved for use here and giving those drugs to patients without their knowledge or consent.

She was convicted of falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, in addition to billing insurance companies for counseling, treatment and training procedures that were never performed.

The woman’s Gainesville office was raided by authorities in 2011. In 2013, she closed her practice.

A conviction for health care fraud is devastating. In addition to potential criminal and civil sanctions, charges like these could wreak havoc on professional and personal reputations and there is the very real possibility of losing professional licenses. Any Floridian who suspects that they are under investigation for health care fraud or who has been charged with a related crime should seek the advice of our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton as early in the process as possible to start building the most powerful defense possible. The risks are extremely great in these situations.

Continue reading

Published on:

When a criminal conviction is invalidated on appeal, the state is obligated to refund fees, court costs and restitution paid by the defendant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month.

In Nelson V. Colorado, a violation of due process rights was found under the 14th Amendment. The state’s statute regarding compensation for the exonerated, which allows the retention of conviction-related assessments until the exonerated person proves his or her innocence by clear and convincing evidence in a civil court proceeding.

“Is there a risk of erroneous deprivation of defendant’s’ interest in return of their funds if, as Colorado urges, the Exoneration Act is the exclusive remedy? Indeed yes, for the act conditions refund on defendant’s’ proof of innocence by clear and convincing evidence,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “But to get their money back, defendants should not be saddled with any proof burden.”

Two petitioners both had convictions dealing with sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse of children. One was ordered to pay $8,192.50 in fees, and was acquitted of all charges on appeal. The Colorado Department of Corrections kept $702.10 of that money. The other petitioner had one conviction reversed on direct review, and the others were vacated on post-conviction review. He was ordered to pay $4,413 in fees, and paid the state $1,977.75 after his conviction.

Neither person filed a claim under the state’s Exoneration Act, but both petitioned the court for a refund. The first petitioner’s trial court denied her motion, and the second petitioner’s post-conviction court refunded costs and fees, but not restitution. The Colorado Court of Appeal reversed, but the state supreme court found that since the two did not file a claim under the statute, the trial courts did not have the authority to grant refunds.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the case.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, arguing that the majority did not address whether petitioners could show “a substantive entitlement” for the money they paid in accordance with their criminal convictions.

“No one disputes that if petitioners had never been convicted, Colorado could not have required them to pay the money at issue. And no one disputes that Colorado cannot require petitioners to pay any additional costs, fees, or restitution now that their convictions have been invalidated,” Thomas wrote. “It does not follow, however, that petitioners have a property right in the money they paid pursuant to their then-valid convictions, which now belongs to the state and the victims under Colorado law.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a concurrence for the judgement, finding that the majority’s treatment of restitution wasn’t “grounded in any historical analysis.” He wrote at length about Mathews v. Eldridge, a 1976 U.S. Supreme Court case that established a three-part balancing test to determine if the government must offer a hearing to a citizen who faces losing his or her property.

“The Court summarily rejects the proposition that ‘equitable considerations’ might militate against a blanket rule requiring the refund of money paid as restitution…but why is this so,” Alito writes. “What if the evidence amply establishes that the defendant injured the victims to whom restitution was paid but the defendant’s conviction is reversed on a ground that would be inapplicable in a civil suit?”

Continue reading

Published on:

A woman has been arrested in Pasco County after allegedly renting out homes she didn’t own.

Authorities said the 43-year-old was arrested for scheming to defraud after allegedly pretending to be the owner of two homes — one in Holiday and the other in New Port Richey.

According to reports, she was renting out the property for $800-$850 a month.

The actual owner of the property was apparently unaware of this transaction.

The woman also had active felony warrants for grand theft and unlicensed real estate broker or sales associate in Hillsborough County.

There are many reasons why good, normally upstanding people end up facing fraud or other white collar crimes charges. Whatever the reason, our Pasco County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have one goal, which is to defend you against the charges. This means investigating your case thoroughly and presenting the strongest case possible to help you get back to leading a normal life.

We represent people throughout the state of Florida that are under investigation or facing formal state or federal charges for a wide range of white collar crimes, including:

Continue reading

Published on:

Three men were arrested Thursday on charges of using a skimming device at a bank ATM in Osceola County, according to deputies.

The men, 36, 22, and 38 were arrested during a traffic stop. Investigators said the men were seen removing a skimming device from the ATM.

An investigation apparently began Oct. 20 after suspicious activity was reported at a SunTrust Bank located in Celebration.

All three men were booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Credit and debit card skimming is a form of theft that can happen in many different ways. The most common way is stealing personal information through ATMs. How does it work? High tech devices are installed on ATM machines that see a high volume of customers so that every time a person uses their card, their information gets stored on the device. A magnetic card reading device is installed on top of the ATM’s card reader, which looks identical to the real ATM reader underneath them, which is why customers do not usually pay them any mind.

The skimming device does not interrupt the ATM’s normal functions, so customers can still withdraw their cash, but remain unaware that their data has been stolen. While a person is sliding their card into the device to get cash, the skimming device saves and stores the card information.

Continue reading

Published on:

Suspended Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair has dropped out of the race for re-election and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the State Attorney’s Office to drop perjury and official misconduct charges against him.

Under the agreement, which Blair signed on Thursday, he will continue to receive his pension from the state retirement system and the state will not proceed with the charges against him that came from his time as sheriff. Also, the federal government does not presently consider him a person of interest or have any plan to file criminal charges against him.

Blair’s letter to Wesley Wilcox, supervisor of elections, reads: “Having duly qualified for election for the office of Sheriff of Marion County, in the Republican Primary and General Elections of 2016, I hereby immediately and irrevocably withdraw my candidacy for the office of Sheriff of Marion County.”

Blair also sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, which said: “Having been suspended from office on May 20, 2016, I hereby immediately and irrevocably resign from the office of Sheriff of Marion County.”

Blair, who had been sheriff since he took the oath of office in January 2013, had to leave office on May 20 after he was arrested and charged with two counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct. If convicted of the charges, he faced five years for each charge along with a $5,000 fine for each offense.

Blair’s charges resulted from his account of the 2014 arrest of a man. At least one deputy has admitted beating the suspect following a shootout and after the suspect left his northwest Marion County home. The suspect, who was later convicted of attempted murder, was unarmed and compliant at the time of his arrest; he has a federal civil rights case pending against Blair and several deputies.

Although Blair later swore, on a signed affidavit submitted for that federal case and in testimony in front of a grand jury, that he did not see the suspect face to face after the arrest, a video recorded at the scene shows deputies walking the suspect directly past Blair. A grand jury indicted Blair in May.

The court documents signed Thursday by Blair states that he did not admit or deny “the ultimate facts that gave rise to the charges” and “the agreement is made in my own best interest and enables me to dispose of the charges without risk of conviction and sentence.”

Continue reading

Published on:

The mayor of the City of Tavares was suspended from his office by the governor of Florida on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Robert William Wolfe was charged a day earlier with insurance fraud, a third-degree felony. He bonded out of jail Wednesday evening.

According to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order, Wolfe “is prohibited from performing any official act, duty or function of public office.”

The city’s vice mayor, Lori Pfister, has been moved to the position of mayor.

The State Attorney’s Office claims that in February, Wolfe filed a $9,000 claim with his insurance company, saying his home was damaged and he needed to rent a home. However, an investigation by the Department of Financial Services found that he never left his property.

It has been estimated that insurance fraud costs the industry more than $80 billion each year. The tricky thing about insurance fraud is that it can be difficult to prove someone guilty because of the way these types of crimes are usually committed. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, you may be an innocent party who had little to nothing to do with a crime. Our Lake County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will investigate your case until we get to the bottom of any alleged criminal activity, so that we can protect your interests and fight for your rights.

Continue reading

Published on:

A New Port Richey couple has been arrested on charges of organized fraud, grand theft and mortgage fraud tied to the sale of investment offerings in Clearwater.

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced on Friday the couple is accused of defrauding at least 13 Floridians out of about $500,000.

According to the OFR, potential investors were allegedly recruited through “free” real estate investment seminars held at various hotels throughout the Tampa Bay area. At the seminars, attendees were offered investments in an assisted living facility. The facility never came into operation, authorities claim, and instead the pair allegedly used investor funds for personal expenses, including the purchase of a home in New Port Richey.

When arrested separately on June 24 and July 13 the man and wife were believed to be recruiting investors for a new venture involving multi-level marketing and real estate projects.

The crime of fraud is defined as deceiving another person for financial gain. Organized fraud is any type of fraud committed by an organized group in order to steal from unsuspecting individuals. These charges are quite serious and carry severe penalties. Fraud charges are often investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A few types of organized fraud include:

  • Get Rich Quick Schemes
  • Phishing: obtaining sensitive personal information, like online usernames and passwords.
  • Bank Fraud
  • Investment Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Mail Fraud
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit Card Fraud

Continue reading

Published on:

A Barcelona court has found Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of three counts of tax fraud and has sentenced them to 21 months in prison.

It is unlikely that either will have to serve any jail time.

In a statement, the court also said that the sentence can be appealed through the Spanish supreme court. Under Spanish law, a tax prison sentence under two years can be served under probation, meaning Messi and his father are very unlikely to go to jail.

The court has also ordered Messi to pay a fine of about €2 million ($2.2 million), while his father was dealt a €1.5m fine for the tax evasion.

The court had been hearing a case brought by prosecutors who maintain that Messi and his father used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay as well as shell companies in the U.K. and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes totalling €4.1m on earnings from image rights from 2007 to 2009.

Barcelona on Wednesday issued a statement in support of their star forward, saying that they feel Messi is not criminally responsible for the tax fraud.

“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today,” the statement read. “The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case. FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests.”

Lionel Messi admitted in court last month that he signed many documents without reading their contents and that he visited a notary’s office to go through with setting up a company to handle his finances without understanding what was going on.

When news of the investigation first broke in the summer of 2013, the Messi’s paid over €5m in arrears and extra charges. They are also believed to have paid €10m in taxes due on the image-rights income for 2010 and 2011.

In February, Messi’s teammate Javier Mascherano was given a one-year prison sentence for not properly paying his taxes. The sentence was deferred for two years after his legal team rejected the option to pay a new €280,000 ($312,000) fine, which it considered excessive.

According to Forbes magazine, Messi earns a total of $81.4 million a year, making him No. 2 in their list of world’s highest-paid athletes for 2016.

The truth is that no one likes to pay taxes. However, all of us and the companies we work for are obligated to do so. We all know that even just for our personal tax returns, tax laws can be quite complex. Because of how complicated tax laws can be, these cases can be some of the most complicated criminal cases any lawyer will ever handle.

There are many different types of tax fraud cases. Sometimes, prosecutors will try to claim that a person attempted  to “evade” taxes. Other cases involve allegations that someone failed to file a tax return. There are also cases where the government alleges that a person did not identify the source of income, or that they allegedly structured cash deposits to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports.

Continue reading

Published on:

The Justice Department announced Wednesday it’s charging hundreds of individuals across the country with committing Medicare fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is the largest takedown in history, in regards to the number of people charged and the loss amount, according to the Justice Department.

The majority of the cases being prosecuted involve separate fraudulent billings to Medicare, Medicaid or both for treatments that were never provided.

In one case, a Detroit clinic that was actually found to be a front for a narcotics diversion scheme billed Medicare for more than $36 million, the Justice Department said.

The actual numbers:

  • $900 million in false billing
  • $38 million sent from Medicare and Medicaid to one clinic to carry out medically unnecessary treatments
  • $36 million billed to Medicare by a Detroit clinic that was actually a front for a narcotics diversion scheme
  • 1,000 law enforcement personnel involved
  • 301 defendants charged across the United States
  • 61 of those charged are medical professionals
  • 36 federal judicial districts involved
  • 28 of those charged are doctors

A doctor in Texas has been charged with participating in schemes to bill Medicare for “medically unnecessary home health services that were often not provided.”

Continue reading

Published on:

A former civilian Defense Department officer who oversaw military contracts has pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with a wide-spanning Navy corruption case involving a Malaysian businessman, according to reports.

Prosecutors claim the Malaysian businessman swindled the military out of more than $34 million.

The former officer entered his plea Thursday in federal court in San Diego. Prosecutors allege he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for helping a Singapore-based businessman.

The former officer is among more than a dozen charged in the scandal centered around the Malaysian businessman.

The Malaysian businessman pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors claim the former officer helped the Malaysian businessman get Navy contracts to service its ships.

Bribery charges are nothing to joke about. In fact, a bribery crime can result in a state or federal crimes conviction. The majority of bribery charges arise from illegal actions of influential government officials or business leaders, as this case demonstrates. When someone is under investigation for or is charged with a violation of federal or state bribery laws, it is important to obtain legal help right away.  A Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what you are up against and what the best defense strategy is for your particular situation.

Continue reading

Contact Information