Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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If you or someone you care about was recently arrested or investigated for a crime like Southern California Medicare/Medi-Cal fraud, your life has been topsy-turvy. Guilty-or-Innocent.jpg

The penalties associated with your charges could include substantial jail time and forced reparations. You could also lose your dental, medical, or chiropractic license. On top of that, a seemingly endless array of ripple effects could haunt you: e.g. loss of your professional reputation, loss of respect from your family members and peers, financial problems, etc.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being tagged for Los Angeles Medicare fraud (or Southern California credit card fraud, Los Angeles insurance fraud, or other so-called white-collar crimes) is the self-recrimination that often follows.

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According to a October 28th report in Los Angeles Times, 17 people, including a pharmacist and physician, have been accused of Medicare and Medi-Cal fraud for participating in a sophisticated psychiatric drug recycling ring that bilked benefits programs out of millions of dollars and compelled the government to pay multiple times for the same stolen pills.zyprexa-los-angeles-medicare-fraud.jpg

Apparently, so-called “runners” in the ring would obtain Medicare beneficiary cards illegally, either by buying them outright from Medicare and Medi-Cal recipients or by stealing them. Then they would use these cards to obtain prescriptions for expensive antipsychotic agents, like Zyprexa and Seroquel. According to q criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last Thursday, the scam was sophisticated, intertwined, and quite organized.

After the runners filled the prescriptions and billed for them, they would then funnel the drugs back to the pharmacies that provided the drugs in the first place. Those pharmacies would then repackage, re-label and dispense the drugs, often to ring members using stolen Medicare cards.

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Last Tuesday, a jury convicted Pastor Christopher Iruke in a multimillion dollar Los Angeles healthcare fraud case. Iruke, an employee, and Iruke’s wife were nailed on charges of healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud for devising and carrying out a scam that bilked Medicare for $14 million.pastor-medicare-fraud.jpg

A story last week in the Los Angeles Times painted a vivid picture of Iruke’s last moments before his arrest. As federal authorities zeroed in on his fraud ring, the pastor of a South LA storefront church started to “shove pages upon pages of incriminating evidence into a shredder until the machine overheated. He then stuffed papers into the toilet and tried flushing his problems away…the documents linked him to bogus prescriptions for power wheelchairs for which he billed the government about $6,000 a piece, prosecutors alleged.”

Prosecutors said that the pastor collected about $6.6 million in reimbursements from the false claims (out of $14.2 million in claims filed) and that “the money funded a lavish lifestyle, including several luxury cars, international travel, and about $0.5 million remodeling on his Baldwin Hills home.”

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Newsflash: the Southern California Medicare fraud crackdown is real. medicare-fraud-los-angeles-2.jpg

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, and other organizations are taking dead aim at fraud rings. They want to punish schemers and sending a warning to would-be white collar criminals in Los Angeles: consequences can be dire.

The latest shot across the bow comes out of Detroit. Last week, 26 people were indicted in US District Court. Allegedly, they bilked Medicare and Medicaid out of over $58 million in a fraudulent prescription scheme. The alleged mastermind, Babubhai “Bob” Patel, allegedly purchased a number of local Detroit pharmacies and then “set them up with store owners to conceal his stake in the enterprise.” Using this structure, Patel and his fellow coconspirators wrote bogus prescriptions and collected kickbacks. Patients were recruited to bribe individuals “to bill their insurance for medications and services that were either never provided or unnecessary.”

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Brace yourself for a slew of high profile Southern California medicare fraud arrests.

According to a July 10 article in Los Angeles Times, “Medicare Anti-fraud Detection System Launched,” federal officials have set up a powerful new predictive modeling system to identify Medicare fraud and punish syndicates and individuals who bill for false claims and engage in other types of fraud. los-angeles-medicare-fraud-4.jpg

The LAT describes the computer predictive modeling system – which was honed in South Florida over a few years – as working “much like credit card systems that raise alerts about suspicious purchases – such as 20 pairs of shoes or unusually large sales – to help block criminals from using stolen cards or IDs.”

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If you or someone you care about has recently been arrested or indicted for Southern California Medicare fraud, you have company. burbank-medicare-fraud.jpg

As this blog regularly reports, government investigators are cracking down, big time, on entitlement fraud across the country. One of the biggest news stories on this front came out of Chicago last week: 43-year-old Jacinto Gabriel, Jr. was indicted in connection with a $20 million scam to defraud Medicare. Gabriel, Jr. owned a variety of businesses, including Perpetual Home Health, Incorporated and Legacy Home Healthcare Services. He submitted millions of dollars in false claims for services never delivered (or price inflated or medically unnecessary services).

Allegedly, Perpetual Home Health, Inc. – by itself – submitted 14,000 different claims between the middle of 2006 and early 2011 and collected $38 million in payments from Medicare. This made it one of the biggest recipients of Medicare funds in all of Illinois. Gabriel, Jr. allegedly used the money he collected from Medicare to gamble, buy automobiles, purchase real estate at home and abroad, provide kickbacks and gifts to physicians for patient referrals, and more.

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A quiet but disturbing Los Angeles Medicare fraud case resolved last Monday, when 45-year-old Petros Odachyan was sentenced to 51 months in prison in a Los Angeles Federal Court pursuant to charges that his company, RL Medical Supply, defrauded Medicare out of $600,000 (after billing the program for more than $1 million).Petros-Odachyan-los-angeles-medicare-f.jpg

Prosecutors charged Odachyan with forging prescriptions for items like medical equipment, electric wheelchairs, and hospital bills – most of which RL Medical Supply never gave to patients. Odachyan pled guilty last June to committing healthcare fraud; he now will apparently face more than four years behind bars, unless he appeals the decision and manages to get some reprieve.

Odachyan’s sad saga is unfortunately all too common these days. And anyone who has been recently accused of Southern California medical fraud, Los Angeles insurance fraud, or any other Southern California white collar crime could potentially face similarly serious sentences – many years behind bars, possibly, and a total devastation of your business reputation.

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After U.S. lawmakers pressured Apple, the tech company has banned an app called “Buzzed” which revealed the locations of Long Beach DUI checkpoints (and checkpoints elsewhere) that police had not previously publicized. Apple also changed its online store guidelines to come into compliance with this new policy: “Apps which contain DUI checkpoints [such as Los Angeles DUI, Pasadena DUI, Glendale DUI, Burbank DUI, etc.] that are not published by law enforcement agencies that encourage and enable drunk driving will be rejected.”Buzzed.jpg

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) Nevada applauded Apple but encouraged the company “to take the next responsible step for removing all applications that allow unsafe drivers to evade police checkpoints.” Perez Hilton, for one, also applauded the Apple move: “It’s definitely a step in the right direction… we feel these apps only do more harm than good by putting other drives at risk. Not only will drunk drivers be drunk, but they will be fiddling around on their cell phones to avoid getting caught!”

Opinions about Apple’s move were far from unanimous, however. For instance, as techdirt.com points out, blogger Nick Gillespie built a powerful argument against the banning of apps like Buzzed: “police themselves regularly make this info available as a deterrent.”

Quoting from Gillespie’s blog now: “Some police departments actually support the data used in such apps because they reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road!”

Another blog post on reason.com argued that such apps (like Buzzed) actually minimize drunk driving and speeding – which is one of the reasons why police in places such as Travis County, Texas are the ones entering the information for DUI checkpoint apps such as Trapster. As a Travis County cop puts it, “If we can stop the problematic behavior without writing tickets or hauling people, everybody is better off.”

The pundits and techno bloggers can continue to debate the merits (or lack thereof) of Apple’s app ban. But if you or someone you care about has recently been pulled over at a Long Beach DUI checkpoint, you have fewer intellectual concerns and more practical ones. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, such as Long Beach’s Kraut Law Group (444 West Ocean, Suite 800 Long Beach, California 90802 Phone: (562) 531-7454), can inform you, help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and develop an astute and aggressive strategy to clear your record and defend your interests.

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Last week, while most of the blogosphere zeroed in on the salacious accusations against International Monetary Fund’s chief, the news on the Southern California Medicare fraud front was not exactly silent. Southern-California-medicare-fraud.jpg

Indeed, a May 14th article in the Wall Street Journal (“Medicare Fraud Nets Guilty Plea”) has had a lot of pundits and analysts debating the implications. A Brooklyn physical therapist, Alexander Kharkover, plead guilty the Friday before last in Federal Court to five counts of submitting false/fraudulent claims to Medicare. For a five-year period (from January 2005 to July 2010), Kharkover allegedly overbilled Medicare to the tune of nearly $12 million, and Medicare paid $7.3 million worth of those claims.

Mr. Kharkover pled guilty without trying to arrange a plea deal. He has yet to be sentenced. Here is an interesting quote from the WSJ about the matter: “According to a person familiar with the case, in one instance, Mr. Kharkover allegedly submitted a bill for a service he performed personally, but on a date when he was on vacation cruise.”

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If you’ve recently been charged with a Southern California white collar crime, insurance fraud, credit card fraud, or any other non-violent offense, you might not immediately see any parallels between your situation and the war on terror. But the blogosphere was literally inflamed this past week with news about Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of US commandos, and it may be useful for us to examine how the ways in which we think about crime influence our potential legal defense strategies.osamaBinLaden-shot.jpg

The basic point is this: We often construct “just so” stories or narratives to justify our opinions about events and people.

The manhunt for Osama bin Laden, for instance, ended successfully from the United States’ point of view. Now, when we look back, historically, things will look all tied up like a neat little bow. One can almost think about Osama being gunned down by snipers in the daring 40-minute raid in Abbottabad Pakistan as the third act of a movie (guessing there probably will be one pumped out by Hollywood soon enough). Thus, our ì20/20 hindsightî makes it seem like the deliverance of justice upon Osama was a forgone conclusion. If history had proceeded along another path – what’s technically known as a counterfactual – we would have constructed a different “just so” story, and that, too, would have seemed like an inevitable product of history.

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