Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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An Arizona medical company that serves thousands of cancer patients is battling a federal lawsuit alleging that it ripped off Medicare and other government programs with millions of dollars in fraudulent charges.

The whistleblower complaint moving through U.S. District Court says principals at Arizona Center for Cancer Care improperly collected nearly $8 million from U.S. health care agencies since 2011.

The lawsuit alleges AZCCC engaged in double billing, charged for unnecessary medical services and overcharged for testing and treatments.

The Peoria-based company, known legally as Arizona Center for Hematology and Oncology PLC, has 35 offices in Maricopa County, with 65 physicians specializing in oncology, urology, hematology and gynecological oncology. The company advertises treating more than 30,000 patients.

The civil action was filed in 2016 under the federal False Claims Act by the company’s billing manager, who asserts that he repeatedly warned AZCCC its charging methods were improper and excessive.

Civil charges of Medicare fraud can lead to criminal charges as well. Health care providers found to have committed Medicare fraud face pretty severe penalties and major consequences. In most cases, offenders will be required to repay the overpayments, along with hefty fines. Criminal prosecution by the federal government is also highly likely. The usual prison term is up to five years for each offense, which can add up to a lot very quick.

Our Florida Medicare Fraud Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton defend patients, doctors, medical clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facility personnel, and all other healthcare personnel accused of filing fraudulent Medicare claims for supposed non-qualifying health care services. We know Medicare fraud is one of the most serious charges a health care provider may ever face.

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A 63-year-old New Orleans woman has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for her part in a $3.2 million Medicare fraud and kickback scheme.

She was also ordered to pay $277,000 in restitution, according to federal prosecutors.

She was convicted in November and sentenced Wednesday in a five-year scheme to supply power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment to people who didn’t need it.

Evidence showed that the woman got more than $47,000 in kickbacks from an equipment supply company owner, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The equipment supply company owner was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. Evidence showed she caused Medicare to pay more than $3.2 million for unnecessary equipment from 2004 to 2009, based on illegal referrals.

The New Orleans woman apparently provided information about Medicare beneficiaries and got doctors to sign order forms for the unnecessary equipment, according to the statement. She was convicted on two counts of conspiracy, two counts of health care fraud and five counts of receiving health care kickbacks.

When the government investigates you for Medicare fraud, you need to know that they have a huge amount of resources at their disposal. The FBI, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and federal and state prosecutors are simply a few of the entities that will be involved in mounting a case against you.

An investigation is a serious matter that you must take seriously. You must retain the legal help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the complex health care laws and regulations. Our Florida Medicare Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are highly experienced trial attorneys that will fight to protect your rights.

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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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A 70-year-old Miami man was convicted of illegally steering state-court defendants to a corrupt clinic, which in turned fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $63 million.

He was sentenced to five years in prison, plus three years of supervised release. And he must pay back a staggering $9.9 million in restitution.

He was found guilty of getting illegal payments from a corrupt clinic called in Miami, which fraudulently billed the Medicare system for more than $63 million.

The man got a flat monthly rate based on the number of patients he referred to the clinic.

In all, the clinic apparently paid him$432,829 over six years, aside from his regular salary as a mental health care worker.

The clients referred to the clinic cost taxpayers between $9.5 million and $25 million in bogus claims between 2006 and 2012.

The man was arrested in June 2017. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive healthcare kickbacks.

The federal government has numerous laws in their back pocket in which they can pursue legal actions against those they believe are committing Medicare or healthcare fraud, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Physician Self-Referral Law, the Exclusion Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law.

Common claims brought under Medicare fraud include:

  • Overbilling for services provided
  • Unbundling services for higher payouts
  • Upcoding for a higher level of service than that which was actually performed
  • Billing for patients who do not exist
  • Submitting bills for services that were not actually performed

The consequences of a government prosecution against you for Medicare fraud could include the following:

  • Hefty fines
  • Exclusion from all government health care payment programs
  • Further disciplinary actions by other administrative agencies
  • Loss of your professional license
  • Criminal charges and jail time

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A Fort Lauderdale eye doctor received a 17-year sentence in February for apparently stealing $73 million from Medicare by persuading elderly patients to undergo excruciating tests and treatments they didn’t need for diseases they didn’t have.

The man was convicted of 67 crimes including health care fraud, submitting false claims, and falsifying records in patients’ files.

Prosecutors showed that between 2008 and 2013, he became the nation’s highest-paid Medicare doctor, building his practice by giving elderly patients unnecessary eye injections and laser blasts on their retinas that some compared to torture.

The 63-year-old was ordered to pay $42.6 million in restitution to Medicare.

Prosecutors argued he stole $136 million but his attorneys insisted the proven total was $64,000. US District Judge Kenneth A. Marra said the evidence shows the theft was at least $73 million.

The man could have been given a life sentence. Prosecutors had been seeking 30 years. Defense attorneys sought less than 10.

The man has been in custody since his April 28 conviction.

Our Florida Medicare Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help defense those accused of these charges. Recently, the government has started seriously cracking down on medicare fraud, so our Medicare Fraud Defense Lawyers are even more necessary now than in the past. Congress has introduced multiple bills to increase fines and jail time for medicare fraud, and the government now has several entities armed with the task of uncovering alleged medicare fraud. Facing a medicare fraud accusation is scary and the consequences are very real.

Financial penalties for the medicare fraud are severe and fines can be $10,000 or more per claim. Moreover, any healthcare providers convicted of fraud can be excluded from participating in the medicare program in the future. Those convicted can also face lengthy jail sentences as well as the loss of their practices. The government will usually try to claim multiple law violations for a single fraudulent claim, which will only result in more punishments if a conviction is achieved.

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Two 19-year-old boys have been charged in an alleged holiday crime spree.

Pasco deputies claim the two teens went on a crime spree over the late hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas night in the Zephyrhills area.

The two 19-year-old’s are accused of burglarizing vehicles and stealing money, personal items, firearms, ammunition, and other items from victims.

Investigators claim they recovered several guns, ammo, narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and stolen property items from the suspects.

The teens were arrested and charged with over 18 felony offenses related to the holiday crime spree.

Authorities said further investigation may lead to additional charges and suspects.

Theft crimes usually increase over the holiday season. If you are facing criminal prosecution, you could be dealing with serious life consequences. You could be looking at years behind bars, a permanent stain on your criminal record, fines and other punishments.

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Two people have been arrested in Hernando County and are facing multiple fraud and drug charges in connection with an alleged credit card fraud scheme.

The pair have been booked into the Hernando County Jail.

A detective with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said this is one of the largest credit card schemes she’s seen here in the county in the 18 years she’s been with the department.

This all started with an investigation into a fraudulent return refund case, but detectives said they soon learned much more.

On Sunday, detectives arrested the two for fraudulent credit card charges at a Bed Bath and Beyond retail location. When detectives arrived at their Spring Hill home, they discovered the two were allegedly growing marijuana at the location.

On Monday, they came back with a search warrant for the drugs. During their search they claim they found dozens of items used to make fake credit cards, as well as skimmer devices used to capture people’s credit card information.

Credit card fraud is taken very seriously by law enforcement in Florida. Those convicted of credit card fraud are often subjected to stiff penalties, so it is crucial to the outcome of your case to understand your legal options.

In the state of Florida, if a credit or debit card was used to obtain more than $100 worth of goods or property more than twice in six months, the crime is considered a third-degree felony. If the card was used to acquire less than $100, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

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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.

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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?”

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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:

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