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December 9, 2015

Southern California Ambulance Company Owner, Operator and Managers Sentenced to Prison for Medicare Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

The former owner, operator and managers of a Southern California ambulance company were sentenced to prison for their role in a fraud scheme that resulted in more than $1.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division made the announcement.

Today, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California sentenced Yaroslav Proshak, aka Steven Proshak, 47, of Valley Village, California to serve 108 months in prison.  On Dec. 2, 2015, Judge Otero of the Central District of California sentenced Emilia Zverev, 58, of Van Nuys, California; and Sharetta Michelle Wallace, 37, of Inglewood, California, to serve 36 months and 24 months in prison, respectively.  In addition to their prison terms, Judge Otero ordered Zverev and Wallace to pay restitution jointly and severally with Proshak in the amount of $804,755.  On Aug. 18, 2015, following a 10-day trial, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Proshak, Zverev and Wallace of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.

Zverev and Wallace worked for ProMed Medical Transportation, an ambulance transportation company owned and operated by Proshak in the greater Los Angeles area that provided non-emergency services to Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom were dialysis patients.  Zverev was the billing manager and Wallace supervised the ProMed EMTs.  The evidence at trial showed that between May 2008 and October 2010, the defendants conspired to bill Medicare for ambulance transportation services for individuals that did not need such services.  The defendants also instructed ProMed EMTs to conceal the patients’ true medical conditions by altering paperwork and creating fraudulent documents to justify the services.  During the course of the conspiracy, ProMed submitted at least $1.5 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary transportation services; Medicare paid at least $804,755 on those claims.

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O.C. Firefighter Sentenced to over 11 Years in Federal Prison for Sending Money Abroad to Produce Sexually Explicit Photos of Girls

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

SANTA ANA, California – A commercial firefighter who resides in Huntington Beach has been sentenced to 135 months in federal prison for attempting to produce child pornography by sending money to the Philippines to purchase a camera to take sexually explicit photos of a 13-year-old girl and her friend.

John McArthur, 57, was sentenced Friday afternoon by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton.

McArthur pleaded guilty in May to one count of attempted production of child pornography.

“This defendant’s deviant crime sought to prey on the most vulnerable victims in society – children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As demonstrated by the sentence that will send Mr. McArthur to prison for well over a decade, there are lengthy prison sentences associated with child pornography crimes like this defendant’s, and these penalties are designed to punish offenders and serve as a warning to others who might consider producing, trafficking or possessing child pornography.”

McArthur had online conversations with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl in the Philippines in January 2012. During those online conversations, McArthur agreed to send money for the purchase of a camera that would be used to take sexually explicit photographs of the girl and an 11-year-old friend. McArthur later went to a Western Union agent in Wilmington to transfer the money to the 13-year-old girl. (more…)

Former Deputy U.S. Marshal Sentenced to Federal Prison for Obstructing Justice by Lying to Investigators after Fatal Shooting

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

LOS ANGELES – A former deputy U.S. marshal was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison after being convicted of obstruction of justice – a charge stemming from lies he told to police after he fatally shot a man.

Matthew Itkowitz, 47, who now lives in Suffern, New York, was sentenced by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

Itkowitz was found guilty of obstruction of justice by a federal jury in July. The conviction was based on false statements Itkowitz made to Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives following his fatal shooting of a man in West Hollywood in March of 2008. Itkowitz falsely characterized an altercation that led to the shooting, and his version of events was contradicted by a video made by a security camera in the alley where the shooting took place.

In addition to obstruction of justice, Itkowitz was charged with violating the victim’s constitutional rights to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer. During the trial, Judge Gutierrez granted a defense motion for judgment of acquittal on that charge and a related gun charge. The jury that convicted Itkowitz also acquitted him of an obstruction of justice charge related to statements he made to a supervisor at the U.S. Marshals Service.

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December 8, 2015

Operator of Inland Empire Loan Modification Scam that Targeted Distressed Homeowners Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:10 am

RIVERSIDE, California – The founder and co-owner of a Rancho Cucamonga business was sentenced today to 18 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme that offered bogus loan modification programs to thousands of financially distressed homeowners who lost more than $7 million when they paid for services that were never provided.

Andrea Ramirez, 47, of Rancho Cucamonga, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who also ordered the defendant to pay $6,764,743 in restitution.

Ramirez was the organizer of a telemarketing operation known under a series of names – including 21stCentury Legal Services, Inc. – that bilked more than 4,000 homeowners across the nation, many of whom lost their homes to foreclosure. Ramirez was sentenced today after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

“This fraudulent company purposely targeted homeowners who were extremely vulnerable because they were facing foreclosure,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Ramirez and her co-defendants made false promises to desperate homeowners, often took the last of their money and then abandoned them. Her contempt for her victims will put her in federal prison for nearly two decades.”

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Santa Barbara Doctor Sentenced to over 27 Years in Federal Prison for Writing Prescriptions for Huge Quantities of Dangerous Narcotics

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:05 am

SANTA ANA, California – A Santa Barbara-area physician who wrote numerous prescriptions for powerful painkillers for “patients” – many of whom were drug addicts, and some of whom died from drug overdoses – was sentenced today to 327 months in federal prison.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 67, a Goleta resident who operated the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara and was known to some “patients” as the “Candyman,” was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

Diaz was sentenced today after being found guilty in August by a federal jury. During the 2½-week trial, prosecutors showed that Diaz was a prolific writer of prescriptions for highly addictive and dangerous drugs and that he distributed the drugs outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.

In 2011, for example, Diaz wrote prescriptions for more than 1.7 million doses of painkillers. His “patients” typically paid cash and received prescriptions for powerful drugs that included opioids, anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants. Several doctors and pharmacists who testified during the trial said that they had never seen any doctor prescribe the combination and quantity of drugs prescribed by Diaz.

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Corona Woman Who Ran High-End Denim Jean Company Sentenced to nearly Seven Years in Prison in $15 Million Bank Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:03 am

LOS ANGELES – A Corona woman who was the chief executive officer of a high-end jean company that outfitted Hollywood celebrities was sentenced today to 79 months in federal prison for running what prosecutors called “two fraud schemes of epic proportions.”

Carolyn Marie Jones, 52, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, who also ordered the defendant to pay $15,124,100 in restitution to individual investors and Union Bank of California.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Fitzgerald said the defendant was “truly a greedy, awful person.”

Jones pleaded guilty in February to one count of bank fraud and one count of concealing assets in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Jones “executed not one, but two, fraud schemes of epic proportions resulting in a loss to Union Bank and numerous investors of $15,124,100,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum that outlined one scheme involving bank loans and bankruptcy fraud and a second one targeting individual investors that Jones perpetrated while free on bond after being indicted in the bank fraud case.

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December 7, 2015

E-Commerce Exec and Online Retailer Charged with Price Fixing Wall Posters

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

A one-count indictment was unsealed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco against Daniel William Aston and his company, Trod Ltd. (doing business as Buy 4 Less, Buy For Less, and Buy-For-Less-Online), a U.K. company headquartered in Birmingham, England.  According to the felony charges, Aston, a director and part owner of Trod, and his co-conspirators fixed the price of certain posters sold online through Amazon Marketplace from as early as September 2013 to in or about January 2014.  Today’s announcement comes after U.K. law enforcement and the FBI successfully conducted searches of Trod Ltd.’s headquarters and Aston’s residence in West Midlands, U.K.

“U.S. consumers deserve competitive markets when they shop online.” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “This company and its owner conspired to fix the prices for poster art and consumers unknowingly suffered the consequences.  It doesn’t matter whether price-fixers operate from an office in California or a warehouse in England.  We will continue to prosecute conspiracies that subvert online competition.”

According to the charge, Aston and his co-conspirators discussed the prices of certain posters sold in the United States through Amazon Marketplace and agreed to adopt specific pricing algorithms for the sale of certain posters, with the goal of offering online shoppers the same price for the same product and coordinating changes to their respective prices.

Aston is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence for individuals of 10 years and a fine of $1 million.  Trod Ltd. is charged with one count of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of a $100 million criminal fine for corporations.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

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MOTHER CONVICTED OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF HER TWO CHILDREN AFTER LOSING CUSTODY BATTLE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A mother pleaded guilty today to the special circumstances murder of her two children after losing custody of them to her former husband. Marilyn Kay Edge, 44, Scottsdale, Ariz., pleaded guilty to two felony counts of murder with special circumstance enhancements for committing multiple murders. She faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at her sentencing scheduled Jan. 8, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On Sept. 11, 2013, Edge lost custody of her two children, 10-year-old Faith E. and 13-year-old Jaelen E., at a family court hearing in Georgia, where her ex-husband lives, following a court ruling. Edge was ordered to submit her children to the Court on Sept. 15, 2013.

On Sept. 12, 2013, Edge drove from Georgia to Arizona, where she had taken her children, and then drove them to California under the false pretense that they were going on a family vacation. The defendant stayed in a Santa Ana hotel with her children.

Late in the evening of Sept. 13, 2013, Edge murdered her two children by a combination of medication, drowning and suffocation.

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CONTRACTOR SENTENCED FOR MISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY FALSIFYING INVOICES FOR MORE THAN $130,000 AGAINST THE COUNTY AND EMBEZZLING MORE THAN $440,000 AGAINST EMPLOYER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A county contractor was convicted and sentenced yesterday for misappropriation of public funds by falsifying invoices for more than $130,000 submitted to the county for reimbursement and embezzling more than $440,000 by making unauthorized payments with his company’s credit card. Brian Cleveland Dunn, 63, Capistrano Beach, pleaded guilty to the court to one felony count of misappropriation of public funds and one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement, with sentencing enhancements of aggravated white collar crime, property damage, and property loss. Prior to today’s plea, Dunn paid $132,787 restitution to the County and was sentenced to one year in jail, three years formal probation, and ordered to pay restitution to his employer.

Vintage Marina Partners (VMP) is a company that manages a portion of the Dana Point Harbor called the Commercial Core. In 2004, Dunn worked as VMP’s General Manager. In 2008, he started up a new company called Organic Tree to purchase landscaping materials for county projects.

Between 2008 and 2012, Dunn purchased landscaping materials and marked up the price of his purchases by as much as 100 percent. He submitted and overbilled the County for over $130,000.

Between 2007 and 2011, the defendant made unauthorized payments using VMP’s company credit card on personal expenses costing over $400,000. Dunn made unauthorized purchases on clothing, travel, and improvements to his home in Hawaii.

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December 4, 2015

Former Beverly Hills Broker Now Charged with Fugitive Investment Advisor Florian Homm in $200 Million Stock Manipulation Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:42 am

LOS ANGELES – A former Beverly Hills stockbroker has been indicted – along with fugitive hedge fund manager Florian Homm and two others – in an alleged stock manipulation scheme designed to pump up the reported profits of the Homm-managed hedge funds in a fraud that caused investors to lose approximately $200 million.

A federal grand jury yesterday afternoon returned a superseding indictment that charges three others who alleged participated in a scheme orchestrated by Homm. The new defendants are: Todd Ficeto, 49, of Marion, Ohio, who formerly resided in Malibu; Colin Heatherington, 41, of Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada; and Craig Heatherington, 38, of Queensland, Australia.

Ficeto today surrendered to federal authorities and is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, 53, was first indicted in March 2013 on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud after he was arrested in Italy (see: http://go.usa.gov/cBCcV). The superseding indictment returned yesterday adds the three new defendants and charges Homm in new counts with investment adviser fraud, money laundering and unlawful monetary transactions.

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