Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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Two city officials in Jacksonville, Florida have been convicted of fraud and money laundering.

Federal court records show that jurors in Jacksonville found 39-year-old Katrina Brown and 57-year-old Reginald Brown guilty Wednesday on multiple charges. The former Jacksonville City Council members are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27. The government is seeking forfeiture of more than $750,000.

Prosecutors believe Katrina Brown obtained millions of dollars in U.S. Small Business Administration loans to expand her family’s barbecue business and create local jobs.

Investigators say she and Reginald Brown, who is not a relative, incorporated two businesses they used to submit fake invoices to their lender for services that the businesses had not provided.

An indictment says Reginald Brown deposited the reimbursement checks into the businesses’ bank accounts.

Money laundering is a white collar crime that occurs when an individual conceals funds earned from criminal activity within a legitimate financial channel. This is a serious federal offense and can result in stiff fines and jail time. These charges are serious and you can expect for federal prosecutors to pursue money laundering charges by working closely with federal law enforcement agencies and applying all of the laws at their disposal, including the Money Laundering Control Act, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, and the Bank Secrecy Act. Because of the fact that there are severe consequences associated with these charges, you need the legal assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you face money laundering charges or any similar allegations.

To prosecute an individual for money laundering, the court must prove that the accused individual illegally gained the funds in question and then deliberately tried to hide where the funds originated from. If the prosecution fails to prove these two crucial pieces of evidence, the money laundering charges must be dismissed. Our Florida Money Laundering Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand that criminal charges like these can be false or the circumstances can be easily misrepresented. That is why our attorneys will believe your story and work as your trusted legal advocates to prove your side of the case. We will do everything in our power to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced. 

Money laundering can only occur if the accused earned funds through criminal activity. With that said, there are numerous other criminal charges that often accompany money laundering charges in Florida, such as financial fraud, health care fraud, drug trafficking, drug distribution, and even prostitution. Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can address any and all criminal allegations made against you simultaneously, with the hopes of resolving these claims in a positive outcome.

Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys will launch an extensive investigation into your case and use every legal avenue available to mount a strong defense. There are defenses against money laundering and financial fraud crimes, such as:

  • Insufficient evidence: A prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that the accused intended to illegally hide the origin of allegedly laundered money and that the money was illegally obtained from a specific criminal activity. If the evidence fails to prove this, then it is entirely possible to have the case dismissed.
  • Absence of intent: If the prosecution cannot prove that the accused was aware that the allegedly laundered money was obtained illegally or that the accused intended to commit a crime, then the case could very well be dismissed due to the lack of intent.
  • Extreme duress or threats: If the accused can prove they were threatened and believed their life to be in danger if they did not participate in the money laundering crimes for which they are being charged, then it may be possible to have these criminal charges dropped or reduced. 

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The Justice Department announced charges against 24 people across the U.S., including doctors accused of writing bogus prescriptions for unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces.

Others charged included owners of call centers, telemedicine firms and medical equipment companies.

The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office said the alleged scam morphed into multiple related schemes, fueled by kickbacks among the parties involved. The FBI, the IRS, and 17 U.S. attorney’s offices took part in the crackdown. Arrests were made Tuesday morning.

Medicare’s anti-fraud unit said it’s taking action against 130 medical equipment companies implicated. They allegedly billed the program a total of $1.7 billion, of which more than $900 million was paid out.

Telemarketers would apparently reach out to seniors offering “free” orthopedic braces, also advertised through television and radio ads. Beneficiaries who expressed interest would be patched through to call centers involved in the alleged scheme. Officials described an “international telemarketing network” with call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America.

The call centers would verify seniors’ Medicare coverage and transfer them to telemedicine companies for consultations with doctors.

The doctors would allegedly write prescriptions for orthopedic braces, regardless of whether the patients needed them or not. In some cases several braces were prescribed for the same patient.

The call centers would collect prescriptions and sell them to medical equipment companies, which would ship the braces to beneficiaries and bill Medicare. Medical equipment companies would get $500 to $900 per brace from Medicare and would pay kickbacks of nearly $300 per brace.

The alleged scam was detected last summer, officials said. Complaints from beneficiaries were pouring in to the Medicare fraud hotline, and some consumer news organizations warned seniors.

Officials said it’s one of the biggest frauds the inspector general’s office has seen. Charges were being brought against defendants in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Medicare is a federal health care program that provides insurance benefits to seniors. Nationally, over 50 million people receive Medicare benefits. Due to Medicare fraud increasing in recent years, federal investigators and prosecutors have been on the hunt for anyone suspected of Medicare fraud. Whether it was the result of an intentional plan, an oversight, or the actions of your staff and/or employee, being charged with Medicare fraud can wreak havoc on your life. Medicare fraud is a serious crime that may result in several years in federal prison, along with significant fines and a permanent criminal record.

Being charged with Medicare fraud can be frightening and overwhelming. Federal charges must be handled by a lawyer who has experience in this specific field. Our Florida Medicare Fraud Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the knowledge and skill you need to bring a powerful defense against the health care fraud charges you face.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested the city of Port Richey’s acting mayor Terrence Hagan Rowe, 64, on Wednesday charging him with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime.

According to the agency, agents received information that Rowe was conspiring to interfere with an active criminal investigation.

Rowe has served as Port Richey’s acting mayor since the previous mayor, Dale Glen Massad, was arrested in February following an incident where he allegedly fired a weapon at Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies at his home to serve a warrant.

Rowe was transported to the Pasco County Jail on a $15,000 bond. Rowe posted bond overnight.

Obstruction of justice is not a minor offense. It is actually a felony offense that can have serious implications on your freedom, life, and livelihood. The crime embodies numerous behaviors, including providing false information to a police officer, concealing material relevant to a prosecution, or destroying or disguising physical information.

If you have been charged with obstruction of justice, you need to obtain a criminal defense lawyer right away to make sure your rights are protected. Due to the severity of this offense, you need to act fast as you could be facing years in prison plus hefty fines. Our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can piece together a strong defense against these charges or work to obtain a favorable plea deal without jail time.

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Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among 50 charged in a nationwide college entrance exam scandal, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Boston.

Several NCAA D-1 college coaches, company CEOs and one college administrator have also been implicated in the scandal utilizing 200 FBI agents, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.”

Documents show those indicted allegedly paid millions in bribes to get their children into elite colleges. Those colleges include Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California.

Arrest warrants have been issued. Thirteen of the accused were taken into custody Tuesday morning in the Los Angeles area, including Huffman, according to reports.

As of Tuesday night, Loughlin was still not in custody.

Feds are basing the case on interviews with witnesses, bank records, flight records, emails, cell site data and wiretaps. The charges were authorized by a grand jury.

The scheme, in some instances, involved parents paying the founder of a college prep business in California, to have someone take the SAT or ACT for their children, according to authorities. Prosecutors alleged that the man also paid around $25 million in bribes to coaches and administrators to pretend client’s children were athletic recruits, thereby guaranteeing admission. The man pleaded guilty in Boston federal court around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice, according to reports.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to USC, through the man’s operation, in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the college’s crew team — even though they did not participate in crew — thereby guaranteeing their admission in the college, according to documents. The couple faces charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Huffman and her spouse, William H. Macy, are accused of disguising a $15,000 charitable payment in the bribery scheme. The charging papers refer to Macy as “spouse.” He hasn’t been indicted. She also faces the charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

According to charging documents, a “confidential witness” met with Huffman at her home and explained that he “controlled” a SAT testing center and could arrange for someone to proctor the taking of the test and then correct her daughter’s answers afterward. Huffman is said to have later exchanged emails with this individual in an effort to get 100 percent extra time for her daughter and to facilitate the taking of the SATs away from her school.

Huffman’s daughter is said to have taken the test in December 2017 and received a 1420 on the test, a 400 point improvement from a previous test. Last October, Huffman discussed repeating this for her youngest daughter in a taped conversation that evidently the FBI has obtained. However, Huffman did not go through with the cheating for her youngest daughter, according to court papers.

Also included in the documents on Tuesday, and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, is TPG’s Bill McGlashan, Hollywood investor and co-founder of STX.

The founder of a college prep business in California has agreed to plead guilty to racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice (after alerting several subjects of the investigation of the government probe), according to court papers, and has been cooperating since September 2018 in a bid for leniency.

In all, 50 people around the country were charged in the alleged cheating and recruitment scam.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case unfolds. Cheating scandals are not something necessarily new, but has definitely grown in popularity within the last decade.

Mail fraud embodies a wide variety of crimes and can extend into other types of fraud as well. Any act of fraud that involves the mail is mail fraud. Many mail fraud charges are accompanied by conspiracy charges.

If you have been accused of mail fraud, you must enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney that has experience handling these complex cases. Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and knowledge needed to intervene early and overcome these charges quickly. Even if you have not been charged and are simply under investigation, our early involvement could result in charges not being filed at all. If charges are filed, we will fight aggressively to overcome them. If you have already been charged, we will conduct a thorough investigation, attack all evidence against you, and establish a strong defense to protect your innocence.

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Authorities have arrested a Jacksonville elementary school principal accused of trying to defraud his insurance carrier in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

According to a statement provided through a spokesperson, Duval County Public Schools has assigned the man to an off-campus role until the district’s investigation is complete.

The man allegedly sought $16,000 in reimbursements from State Farm for home repairs linked to damage from Irma, but two invoices he filed were apparently altered and a third was completely made up.

Investigators determined that invoices submitted for repairs to his roof, A/C and entertainment system were not related to Irma. According to the man’s arrest report, they were from 2013.

The man turned himself in to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to face unspecified charges Nov. 16. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The consequences of an insurance fraud investigation go beyond just having your claim denied – you could end up in prison. Our Florida White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton will work to aggressively protect your interests when facing insurance fraud allegations.

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Nearly two dozen men are accused of massive construction fraud, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

They were arrested last week as part of an undercover sting, and now authorities are warning the public about protecting themselves against unlicensed contractors.

The nine-day undercover sting was designed to catch unlicensed contractors that authorities believe were targeting senior citizens in the area.

Detectives posed as homeowners and responded to advertisements placed by the alleged unlicensed contractors.

The contractors gave the detectives $117,000 in alleged fake estimates, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sixteen people were arrested and six more are facing charges related to this alleged scam.

Contractor laws in the state of Florida are very important to follow. These laws can be confusing, though. If you are a contractor, it is important to follow all laws related to your profession so that you can avoid any unwanted run-ins with the law. However, mistakes do happen and if you find yourself facing criminal charges, our Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help.

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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 former Jacksonville Jaguars player faces insurance fraud charges linked to dental treatment authorities said he never received.

Marlon McCree is accused of filing nearly $78,000 in bogus insurance claims, according to reports. McCree allegedly received $31,000 in reimbursements as a result.

McCree, 41, turned himself into the Nassau County jail Saturday morning, where he remains in custody on five counts of filing false insurance claims, jail logs show.

The former NFL defensive back and one-time Jaguars assistant defensive backs coach faces up to 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted of all charges.

The state Bureau of Insurance Fraud was tipped off in April by Cigna, which accused McCree of submitting bogus paperwork to the Gene Upshaw Health Reimbursement Account, or HRA.

An investigation found McCree falsified invoices that listed All Smiles Dental, Patronis said. The Jacksonville dental practice had no records indicating he was a patient there.

Insurance fraud happens when a policyholder tried to collect insurance payments that they would not have otherwise been entitled to receive. Make no mistake, this is a very serious crime that carries very serious consequences if convicted. You could be looking at hefty fines, restitution and jail time. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, it is important that you have an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton by your side from the start.

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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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