Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

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Have you committed tax fraud or identify theft in Los Angeles?los-angeles-tax-fraud.jpg

If so, the federal government may be heading your way – if they aren’t there already.

The Feds are outraged at a recent rash of tax fraud cases that, quite frankly, do boggle the mind. According to Sun Sentinel report, several homes in Florida filed hundreds of tax returns each. For instance, a home near Lake Okeechobee filed 741 tax returns, which netted over $1 million in refunds. An Orlando postbox apparently received nearly $1.1 million based on over 700 fraudulent returns filed. Another home in Tampa sent out 515 fraudulent returns and raked in nearly $2 million from the federal government.

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Petty theft in Los Angeles or elsewhere is an interesting animal, as far as crimes are concerned.los-angeles-bike-petty-theft.jpg

Understand that if you steal a valuable item worth less than $400, you can still face plenty of reprobation per California law. Indeed, if you are convicted of two counts of petty theft in Southern California, the second conviction can actually elevate the offense to a felony, and you could end up spending a whole year behind bars or worse!

So shoplifting and other types of petty theft can be punished quite egregiously.

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The vast majority of stories about Los Angeles petty theft have nothing to do with the famous singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Tom Petty. But on April 12, someone allegedly stole five of Petty’s guitars! Technically, the crime is not considered Los Angeles petty theft. After all, the value of the five guitars no doubt way exceeds the $400 mark that caps the boundary between petty theft and more serious theft charges.

Tom-Petty-guitars-stolen-petty-theft.jpgThat being said, we have to at least acknowledge the wordplay.

The guitars stolen from the Culver Studios served as the heart and soul of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ operation for years. They include:

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Los Angeles petty theft is a crime in which someone takes money or property that’s worth $400 or less. Both shoplifting and petty theft are charged according to California Penal Code Section 484 PC. petty-theft-los-angeles.jpg

If you’re convicted of this misdemeanor, life can quickly become quite unpleasant. Depending on what you stole, you could face huge fines, forced restitution to the person you stole from, half a year in jail, community service, probation, counseling, and more. But that’s not the beginning of your woes – or even close. In fact, if you have a prior conviction for Los Angeles petty theft, prosecutors can leverage another law, Penal Code Section 666, to elevate misdemeanor theft into a felony. In other words, say you get convicted of petty theft for shoplifting some shoes. Then, years later, you commit a second petty theft — swiping lottery tickets, let’s say. The prosecutor can try to hit you with a felony charge the second time around. If he or she succeeds, not only will you face the same penalties we discussed above (just writ larger), but you could also face up to three full years behind bars!

And it’s not just a second theft arrest that you need to worry about. If you ever get arrested again for other crimes – even crimes having nothing to do with theft, fraud, larceny, etc. – you may face stiffer penalties thanks to your criminal history.

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Most people who go to jail for crimes like Los Angeles Medicare or Medi-Cal fraud do not spend weeks or months ruminating over whether to skirt the law and ultimately decisively concluding to “lead a life of crime.” los-angeles-health-care-fraud-crime.jpg

That may be the way events play out on TV. But, in reality, the temptation to commit any Southern California white collar crime, like Los Angeles credit card fraud, insurance fraud in Los Angeles, etc is slowly and incrementally hatched.

In other words, there is no “a-ha!” moment – no epiphany where a doctor, chiropractor, dentist, or other professional makes an “evil villain” type speech and crosses over to the dark side.

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As regular followers of this blog’s ongoing series on Los Angeles Medicare fraud know, the Federal Government has been stepping up its campaign to bust up Southern California insurance fraud and other white collar crimes – particularly Medicare and Medicaid related schemes. oscar-linares-medicare-fraud.jpg

Today, we’ll focus on a major news story out of Detroit, Michigan. According to the AP, Oscar Linares, a 53-year-old Michigan doctor, allegedly fraudulently billed Medicare for $5.7 million between 2008 and 2010. The Wednesday before last, authorities broke into Linares’ clinic, The Monroe Pain Center, and arrested the doctor.

According to reports from the Monroe Evening News, Linares’ Medicare fraud was unusually intense. He allegedly saw 250 patients a day – actually, he didn’t specifically “see” the patients, he had proxies see the patients and dole out prescriptions for controlled substances like OxyContin. Indeed, if more than 200 patients came in a day, employees allegedly would get bonuses!

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For last several years, we’ve witnessed massive arrests for Southern California Medicare fraud and other healthcare fraud schemes around the nation. Billions of dollars have been seized, and hundreds of people have been arrested and brought to trial. The news practically glitters every week with examples of chiropractors, dentists, doctors, and other healthcare providers caught up in the dragnet.medicare-fraud-los-angeles.jpg

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, President Obama’s 2012 budget proposes a variety of new antifraud tools that will escalate the government’s fight against fraudsters and scam artists. Some experts estimate that the antifraud tools may save over $32 billion over the next decade. What are some of these new antifraud tools, and will these enhanced tactics really repair the system and prevent abuse and graft?

First, let’s take a look at some crucial statistics:

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It’s no secret that Lindsay Lohan’s 2007 Los Angeles DUI arrest has been one of the most publicized celebrity DUI situations in history – probably because the 24-year-old actress continues to encounter legal problems, some of which clearly appear to be self generated. lindsay-lohan-beverly-hills-dui.jpg

Last week, a Los Angeles judge extended Lohan’s deadline to accept or reject a plea deal pursuant to felony grand theft charges. On March 25th, Lohan will decide whether to accept the plea or go in front of a different judge in late April to face a preliminary hearing about whether enough evidence exists to take her to trial for her theft of a $2,500 necklace from the Venice jewelry store, Kamofie & Company.

Since her 2007 arrest, hundreds of people have been arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles, DUI in Pasadena, Burbank DUI, Glendale DUI, and DUI throughout the Southland. But Lohan’s case has probably garnered more media ink (both printed and virtual) than most or even all of these other DUI events combined.

Why is that?

One reason might be the escalating nature of Lohan’s legal troubles. In 2010, for instance, Lohan allegedly attacked a worker at the Betty Ford Rehab Clinic, tested positive for drugs and endured a second prison stint for violating her 2007 Los Angeles DUI probation, allegedly lost her passport, and got ordered to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet and attend additional alcohol education classes. Lohan also lost out on a high profile job – she was slated to star in a biopic of Linda Lovelace (an ex porn star) but got cut and replaced by Watchmen co-star Malin Akerman – possibly because the director did not want to attract negative media attention to the film.

Also, in April last year, police questioned Lohan regarding a theft of a $35,000 Rolex watch.

Lohan’s repeated criminal behavior is known technically as “recidivism.” Studies suggest that people who break the law once will be far more likely to do so again, and the legal system builds in escalating punitive possibilities for repeat offenders.

For instance, consider how Beverly Hill DUI penalties go up as you get convicted for multiple crimes. During a first misdemeanor conviction, you will get 48 hours in custody with a maximum of six months behind bars. You may have a minimum of six weeks in alcohol school, a one-year license suspension, a $1,000 fine, tough probation terms, and court costs to pay. These are obviously not consequences to easily dismiss.

But what should happen if you get a second misdemeanor conviction within 10-years? Suddenly, your mandatory jail time hops up to 10 days behind bars, you can have a minimum of a year and a half of alcohol school, a two-year drivers license suspension (instead of a one-year), much stricter probation terms, and hiked up court costs and fees.

Third and fourth time Beverly Hills DUI offenders can suffer even more consequences – including the bumping up of what would ordinarily be a misdemeanor to a felony charge.

A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, such as Michael Kraut of Beverly Hills Kraut Law Group (9107 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 450, Beverly Hills, California 90210 Phone: (310) 550-6935), can work with you and your family to ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.

Mr. Kraut – who has spent a decade and a half of his life as a prosecutor for Los Angeles, during which time he worked assiduously to put defendants behind bars – leverages his former connections from his days as a prosecutor as well as his Harvard Law School education to deliver exceptional results for his clients. His results really do speak for themselves – a 99% success rate at jury trials, great reviews from past clients, admiration from prosecutors and judges, and invitations from major media, like The New York Times, and KTLA Los Angeles, to comment on DUI news of the day.

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Analysts who study health, chiropractic, and dental fraud in Los Angeles have been heatedly discussing a case out of Kansas. A former doctor, John R. Toth, pled guilty last week to a variety of federal counts, including a count of reckless and voluntary manslaughter, stemming from a bizarre scheme to treat patients for a non-existent epidemic of Lyme disease.Toth-medical-fraud.jpg

The Weird Back Story
In 2001, the then Dr. Toth collaborated with a variety of businesspeople associated with the firm American Biologics to market drugs and a special microscope by ginning up fears of a Lyme disease epidemic. Apparently, Toth and his associates believed that Lyme disease was a primary cause of many illnesses. In any event, Toth prescribed various medications that the Food and Drug Administration had neither reviewed nor approved. One of those patients, Beverly Wunder, suffered serious renal failure as a result of the intravenous injection of a medication, and she fell into a coma and died. Toth was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, including misbranding drugs for interstate commerce, using adulterated medical devices, committing mail fraud, and committing reckless and voluntary manslaughter.

If convicted of all recent counts, the 61 year-old could face 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. He already served 32 months in a state jail, after he pled no contest to the reckless and voluntary manslaughter charge back in November 2007.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for Southern California healthcare fraud, Los Angeles insurance fraud, or white collar crimes in Southern California, you could face serious penalties. Prosecutors could charge you pursuant to Insurance Penal Code Section 550, Insurance Code Section 1871.4, Penal Code Section 118, or Labor Code Section 3700. Your charges and potential penalties obviously will depend on what you did and how prosecutors want to handle your case.

So how should you respond most effectively? A connected and experienced Southern California medical fraud attorney can help you piece together a smart, proactive defense.

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Last week, two former operators of a Miami Clinic pled guilty in Federal Court to multiple counts of submitting false claims, committing fraud, and paying kickbacks, prompting a wide ranging discussion among Southern California medical fraud policy wonks.health-care-fraud.jpg

Jose Nogueira and his brother Rolando Nogueira operated a clinic for AIDS patients called T&R Rehabilitation Professional Corp. They allegedly bilked the government for services that they didn’t provide – particularly expensive HIV infusion services. In April, the government handed down an indictment against the brothers, and they fled the U.S. But the long arm of the law caught up with them. They got apprehended and brought back to Miami for trial for Medicare fraud amounting to over $13.7 million. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for the 5th of November, and each brother faces a maximum of 40 years in prison for the multiple counts.

Los Angeles Medicare fraud, insurance fraud, credit card fraud, and other white collar crimes can result in massive jail sentences, steep fines, and other grievous penalties. Southern California healthcare fraud is charged according to Insurance Code Section 1871.4 as well as Penal Code section 550. Healthcare employers can also be charged under Labor Code section 3700 and Penal Code section 818. If you are convicted of Southern California healthcare fraud, you can face jail time, loss of your medical license, major court costs and fines, and forced restitution to insurers or Medicaid or Medi-cal.

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