Articles Posted in Los Angeles Medicare Fraud

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Whether you just came under investigation for Long Beach healthcare fraud — or you’ve been arrested for fraud and other crimes — you’re trying to figure out what you should do next to protect your rights and ensure fair treatment. medicare-fraud-los-angeles-attorney-defense.jpg

Frankly, it’s tough to talk about your Long Beach fraud charges, even with friends and family. News reports on healthcare fraud vilify defendants — make them seem almost like cartoon characters. Even the use of words like “scheming” and “scamming” can influence people’s perceptions. You may be prejudged as guilty, even if your case is more complicated than it appears to be at first glance.

Avoid saying anything that might compromise your potential defense. As a savvy Long Beach criminal fraud defense lawyer will tell you, you must be careful about what you say about your case and to whom.

Also, know this: would-be sympathetic friends and colleagues may not understand why you did what you did:

• Perhaps you and a few colleagues stole people’s Social Security Numbers to purchase wheel chairs or other expensive electronic medical equipment… and then you billed Medicare at exorbitant rates and pocketed the money.
• Or maybe you pulled off a far more sophisticated, multi-level crime.

Odds are, however, that you did not wake up one morning and say to yourself “I want to be a criminal and defraud Medicare.” Odds are, the thought process took place gradually and involved multiple epiphanies. For instance, maybe you felt enraged at the unfairness of the insurance system. You blamed the system for making it impossible to run a profitable medical business. So you started committing the fraud as a way to “make things even” in your eyes.

Or perhaps a smooth talking colleague or boss convinced you to go along with the fraud because of peer pressure or threats of retribution.

You’d like to walk your friends and associates through your thought process, so they can understand why you did what you did, even if they still judge you harshly. After all, you’re not a cartoon villain — you’re a complex human being who’s trying to navigate a confusing world.

Of course, you also need grounded advice about your next steps.

What should you do now, not only to protect your rights, but also to ensure a positive outcome in your case?

The seasoned Long Beach healthcare fraud defense lawyers at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers would be happy to listen to you in depth and provide a free, no obligation case evaluation. That way, you’ll be equipped with a good understanding of the charges and your potential options for recourse.

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Today, we’re going to examine a disturbing Los Angeles drug crime article in the Los Angeles Times that profiled Dr. John O. Dimowo. This Southern California doctor allegedly prescribed narcotics, like Xanax, Vicodin and Adderall, to undercover agents who didn’t need the medications. Dimowo-los-angeles-medical-crime.jpg

Dr. Dimowo was the subject of a 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation on overdose deaths in patients. Although he was never officially charged in patient deaths, he stands accused of seven counts of prescribing narcotics illegally. Five patients fatally overdosed on medications that Dimowo prescribed to them in 2009 and 2010.

Based on these charges, the 55-year-old doctor could face up to 7 years behind bars.

According to an affidavit, Dimowo provided prescriptions that fueled patients’ addictions. He wrote 37 new prescriptions a day, on average. After The Times wrote about him in 2012, authorities investigated complaints by the Medical Board of California – supported by pharmacists and family members of patients.

But there was not enough evidence to hold him liable.

If you are a doctor who’s been charged with a Los Angeles prescription drug crime — or if you are a friend or family member of a doctor, dentist, or other caregiver who’s been accused of Los Angeles Medicare fraud, insurance fraud, or similar crimes — Dimowo’s case can be illuminating. Despite all the accusations, “the evidence didn’t leave a direct path,” according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, John Niedermann.

As we saw with the much more high profile case of Michael Jackson’s physician – who was convicted of criminal behavior in connection with the King of Pop’s death in 2009 – a doctor CAN be held criminally liable, in the event that a patient suffers serious harm or death.

But the prosecution can have a tough, complex road to hoe.

Let’s say a patient dies after ingesting Vicodin or Xanax. Did the patient have a pre-existing condition that made him or her susceptible to early mortality? Can the prosecution prove that the doctor failed to do due diligence? Did the patient mix the prescription drugs with street drugs?

The prosecution must answer a whole host of questions and objections to win a case like this.

So what does this mean if you or a loved one faces Los Angeles drug crime charges or other Southern California white collar crime charges?

As soon as possible, within reason, start to investigate your charges and construct an informed defense strategy. Former prosecutor (Senior Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles) Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you with this challenge.

Mr. Kraut served for nearly a decade and a half as prosecutor; he understands how to fight and succeed in complex drug crime cases.

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Whether you’re a doctor, chiropractor or dentist accused of Medicare or insurance fraud in Beverly Hills – or a concerned citizen who’s tired of the system’s wastes and unfairness – check this out!senior-citizen-medicare-fraud-patrol.jpg

The federal government loses approximately $60 billion a year, due to waste and fraud in the Medicare system. The Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. “Obamacare” — aims to tackle some of this fraud by turning beneficiaries into “fraud fighters.” Approximately 50 million people use the health insurance program to pay bills, buy medicines and deal with their health issues.

Unfortunately, many beneficiaries are sick, undereducated, or otherwise “mentally foggy” – they may be unable to recognize or report fraud or waste.

To empower these seniors, Medicare will provide larger, easier to read Medicare summary notices as well as easy ways to report any suspicious activity – such as the 1-800 Medicare Hotline and the website

Authorities recommend that seniors pay close attention, if they spot unfamiliar provider names or get billed for office visits that they didn’t go to.

When a Medicare beneficiary discovers a problem, he or she should call the healthcare provider, who should then report it to Medicare, if the discrepancy can’t be explained. This simple system has helped the government recover nearly $15 billion in the past few years. The Senior Medicare Patrol — a volunteer group of around 5,000 people — helps seniors understand their benefits and avoid fraud.

Unfortunately, well meaning providers can easily get caught up in this dragnet and wind up facing devastating charges, like Beverly Hills Medicare fraud or Beverly Hills insurance fraud. These can lead to criminal penalties as well as to license suspension. As a national program manager for Senior Medicare Patrol, Rebecca Kinney, put it: “Most [cases] are mistakes or misunderstandings. Very rarely do we come across something that looks like fraud.”

If you stand falsely accused of Southern California Medicare fraud – or if you did do something wrong, and you’re not sure what to do next — trust the experienced, compassionate, and results-driven team here at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers to provide insight and advice. Call attorney Kraut today to schedule a free consultation and begin the process of clearing your name.

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If you were arrested for Pasadena medical fraud recently, you have plenty of company. medicare-fraud-in-los-angeles-defense.jpg

In a massive bust a few months ago, the federal government arrested 89 people in Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Baton Rouge, Tampa, and Miami. Police grabbed documents, raided businesses, and aggressively pursued alleged wrongdoers. Of the 89 people snagged in the dragnet, 14 were nurses and doctors. Federal officials say that the 89 people collectively stole over $223 million from the taxpayers.

The schemes allegedly conducted were pretty diverse, although regular readers of our Pasadena criminal defense blog won’t be surprised:

• Some people pretended to be doctors to write fake prescriptions. Then they billed the federal government for the meds.
• In another scam, some folks bribed Medicare patients for their identification numbers and then billed the government for services never provided.
• The top suspect purchased a Ferrari and two Lamborghinis with the money he allegedly pilfered.

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, and Kathleen Sebelius, the head of Health & Human Services, worked with 400 federal agents to plan and execute the crackdown. Over the last four years, the anti-fraud Medicare strike force has arrested over 1,500 people and returned $8 for every dollar spent on investigations.

Despite these successes, Holder expressed doubt about whether the antifraud forces would continue to be funded at the same rate. The Justice Department may lose $1.6 billion due to sequestration. Holder worried to reporters that, “unless Congress adopts a balanced deficit reduction plan and stops the reduction currently slated for 2014, [our] capacity to protect the American people from healthcare fraud … will be further reduced.”

Implications for Pasadena Medicare Fraud Defendants
If you or someone you love got swept up in this dragnet — or if you stand accused of a Pasadena white collar crime, like insurance fraud or healthcare fraud — the team here at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers is standing by to listen to your story. We can give you the strategic guidance you need to regain a feeling of control. Get in touch with former prosecutor and Harvard Law School educated defense lawyer Kraut and his team today for the insights you need.

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A Southern California healthcare scam involving wheelchair fraud has netted 58-year-old Dr. Sri J. Wijegunaratne 27 months behind bars. health-care-fraud-wheelchair-los-angeles.doc

“Dr. J” was found guilty of Medicare fraud back in April. Our blog reported on Dr. J’s co-defendant, Godwin Onyeabor, who recently got sentenced to 51 months behind bars for his role in billing Medicare fraudulently and giving kickbacks to physicians. The Anaheim doctors lured patients to a local clinic by them promising juice, vitamins, and other freebies. When they got to the clinics, the patients got more than they bargained for – motorized wheelchairs and other unneeded equipment. The department plans to bring charges against two other co-defendants, Victoria Onyeabor and Heidi Morishita, in late September and early October.

As far as Southern California healthcare fraud schemes go, the one allegedly perpetrated by Onyeabor, Dr. J, and the coconspirators was pretty small and controlled (“just” $1.5 million). The truly titanic Medicare fraud schemes often involve tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has been highly active in pursuing Los Angeles healthcare and insurance fraud charges. Why? Two main reasons:

1. By certain objective standards, health care fraud has reached epidemic levels.
2. Healthcare costs have grown so out of control that the government wants to do anything it can to rein in the burden.

How much jail time will you get for your Los Angeles Medicare fraud charge, if you’re convicted?

Sentencing for fraud charges in Southern California (and elsewhere) is a complicated business. Your punishments will depend on:

• The nature of the crime you allegedly committed;
• Whether you were charged with a federal crime or California crime;
• Whether you might be able to strike a plea deal with prosecutors;
• Whether you have a criminal history;
• Whether you conspired with other people to carry out the healthcare fraud
Given the complexity of your legal situation, it may behoove you to find an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who has handled similarly sophisticated cases before. Mr. Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers has spent nearly decade-and-a-half as a prosecutor for Los Angeles, during which time he’s handled many very complex fraud cases from the prosecutorial side. The Harvard Law School educated Mr. Kraut can help you come to terms with the charges that you’re up against and build a stiff and vigorous defense.

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Whether you’re just being investigated for healthcare fraud in Los Angeles, or whether police already raided your facility and booked you under some very scary sounding charges, you’re feeling out of control and out of the loop.southern-california-health-care-fraud-laws.jpg

What crimes, exactly, might prosecutors charge you with? And what can you do about your impending serious legal battle?

The vast majority of Southern California healthcare crimes are charged according to Insurance Code Section 1871.4. Many cases also include a charge per Penal Code Section 550. That section covers when people make false insurance claims to collect or deny insurance benefits. If you used a false statement to make an insurance claim, prosecutors might also slam you with a charge per Penal Code Section 118, which deals with perjury.

If you’re a doctor, chiropractor or dentist who committed Southern California healthcare fraud, you may also face charges per Labor Code Section 3700. This misdemeanor has to do with falsely representing an employee’s workers’ compensation coverage.

Doctor Fraud in Los Angeles

If you’re a caregiver who practices medicine (or any therapy) in Southern California, you’re well aware that insurance companies are paying less and less for services. So many doctors “push the envelope” with their billing – either by billing more than they should or by making up services never provided. You can read in the news about the million and one variations on this kind of scheme. But the law takes them all very seriously. Not only can you risk a major jail sentence, but the California Medical Board may also strip you of your license.

If federal or CA investigators have already collected patient records and other vital paperwork from your office – or you have other urgent questions concerning your rights, responsibilities, potential punishments, possible defenses, etc – please get in touch with an experienced Southern California Medicare fraud defense attorney at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers now for sound, effective guidance regarding your legal options.

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What makes a Los Angeles Medicare fraud story newsworthy? medicare-fraud-whistleblowing.jpg

• Is it the sheer amount of fraud involved?
• Is it the number of people allegedly harmed by deception?
• Is it the stress that the case puts both on the Medicare system and on the court system?
• Is it the elaborateness of the Rube Goldberg machinations that doctors, caregivers, and other collaborators use to bend or break the system’s rules?

These elements surely help determine what’s “intriguing” or not about Southern California Medicare fraud cases.

But there’s another key element: DRAMA.

After all, we live in the heart of the entertainment industry. Angelinos appreciate compelling, emotionally riveting stories.

In that context, consider a Medicare fraud case just settled up in White Plains, New York. It concerns a company called Park Avenue Medical Associates. At the heart of the case is a family feud between a father and son.

Michael Wolfson, a founder of Park Avenue and its Chief Medical Officer, must have been devastated when he learned that his son, Zachary Wolfson, blew the whistle on him and his associates. The crime, allegedly? Submitting an enormous number of bogus claims for reimbursement.

For instance, the company charged Medicare for psychiatric services for patients with advanced dementia – who could never have benefited from the services! According to Zachary’s accusations – which were supported by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney – the company often failed to adhere to Medicare rules and also billed for unnecessary services.

Since Zachary Wolfson blew the whistle under the False Claims Act, he will be entitled to a sum of the cash settlement that Park Avenue offered to end the legal drama.

News reports have speculated on the intriguing dynamic between Zachary and his father. What went wrong in the company and why? The internal family and company politics may be forever opaque to news sources – and perhaps it should be.

This bring up an important point: the psychological and financial motivations that compel people to commit healthcare fraud, insurance fraud, or other Southern California white collar crimes often are complex. The news likes to paint certain defendants as “bad guys” and talk about them in black and white terms.

Here’s the reality.

People who get involved in fraud schemes are not inherently evil. Rather, their motivations often come from needs not met, such as needs for fair compensation, autonomy, power, and so forth.

The point is that, if you or someone you love stands accused of a similar crime, you need a thorough defense. Trust attorney Michael Kraut of Los Angeles’s Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers, to provide a free and thorough consultation about your options. Mr. Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor who wracked up a very impressive 99+% rate at jury trials as a prosecutor.

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Medicare fraud cases in Southern California (and elsewhere) can start to sound pretty similar to one another, especially if you report on these crimes month after month, year after year, as we’ve done on this blog. durrani-medicare-fraud.jpg

But every once in a while, a riveting, different kind of story bursts through and merits extended commentary.

Recently, prosecutors charged Dr. Atiq Durrani with unfairly billing Medicare to the tune of $11 million for surgeries he performed between February 2010 and January 2013. Prosecutors say that these surgeries were not medically necessary for patients. They also hit him with healthcare fraud charges and charges for making false statements.

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The annals of Los Angeles healthcare fraud are filled with astonishing tales. As an expose in Los Angeles Weekly recently described in vivid detail, con artists, tricksters and “good doctors turned to bad” have engaged in diverse shenanigans to pilfer funds from the federal government’s coffers. Jacques-Roy-los-angeles-medicare-fraud.jpg

But few schemes hold a candle to an operation developed by Dr. Jacques Roy, a physician who operated a “boiler room” in Dallas, Texas that prosecutors say amounted to a $375 million scam.

According to Assistant Attorney General, Lanny Breuer, the 54-year-old Dr. Roy and his coconspirators, for years, ran a well oiled fraudulent enterprise in the Dallas area. They made their millions by recruiting thousands of patients for unnecessary services and then billing Medicare for those services.

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A federal jury just convicted 49-year-old Godwin Onyeabor and two confederates of scheming to defraud Medicare in Los Angeles to the tune of $1.5 million.medicare-fraud-task-force-los-angeles.jpg

Onyeabor, who had been working for a San Bernardino company, Fendih Medical Supply Inc., paid kickbacks to another doctor and healthcare professional to write fake prescriptions for power wheelchairs and other medical equipment.

Onyeabor’s scheme lasted from 2007 to 2012; he billed Medicare for fraudulent claims totaling $1.5 million. Medicare paid out almost $1 million of that money.

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