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January 25, 2013

San Fernando Valley Doctor Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Fraud Case Involving Treatments Never Performed

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 5:32 am

LOS ANGELES – A medical doctor who owns a clinic in the Winnetka district of the San Fernando Valley pleaded guilty today to federal fraud charges for bilking Medicare out of more than $3 million by submitting bills for procedures never performed, sometimes involving patients he never met.

Pezhman Ebrahimzadeh, who uses the name “Pez Abrahams,” 50, of Calabasas, pleaded guilty today to one count of health care fraud before United States District Judge George H. Wu.

Ebrahimzadeh owns the Winnetka Medical Group, a cosmetic health care clinic that operates under the name Health & Beauty Clinic. At his clinic, Ebrahimzadeh provides cosmetic treatments that involve radiofrequency lasers and liposuction. As some of his patients were Medicare beneficiaries, Ebrahimzadeh obtained their beneficiary information, which was used to bill Medicare for procedures he did not perform. Ebrahimzadeh also obtained beneficiary information for patients he never treated, and he used that information to submit other fraudulent bills to Medicare.

In relation to the bogus bills submitted to Medicare, Ebrahimzadeh typically claimed he had performed three expensive procedures: revascularization, ablation of a bone tumor, or the placement of a radiotherapy catheter in a breast. Ebrahimzadeh made these claims, even though he lacked the equipment needed to perform revascularizations or the placement of radiotherapy catheters. On at least one occasion, Ebrahimzadeh admitted in court today, he billed Medicare for performing these procedures, even though the purported patient was dead.

Between September 2008 and April 2012, Ebrahimzadeh submitted $7.5 million in bogus claims, and Medicare paid just over $3 million.

Judge Wu is scheduled to sentence Ebrahimzadeh on May 20. At sentencing, Ebrahimzadeh faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The plea agreement contemplates a sentence of approximately four to five years, but Judge Wu will make the final determination as to the actual sentence that will be imposed in this case. In the plea agreement, Ebrahimzadeh agreed to repay the millions of dollars he stole from Medicare.

January 12, 2013

San Bernardino County Man Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud Charges Related to $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 5:04 am

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jeffrey J. Sykes, 54, of San Bernardino County, California, pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge John McBryde to two counts of securities fraud stemming from a Ponzi scheme he ran in connection with his ownership of Gemstar Capital Group, Inc. (Gemstar), a California-based private equity company.  For each count of securities fraud, Sykes faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution.  Sentencing is set for April 26, 2013.  Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

According to documents filed in the case, Sykes owned and operated Gemstar out of Redlands, California.  In 2006, Sykes and “M.K.,” an individual who lived in Westlake, Texas, met at a golf tournament.  Sykes told M.K. that Gemstar was a venture capital company interested in investing in emerging growth companies and that Gemstar was looking to supplement its planned venture capital operations by engaging a brokerage firm to assist it in buying and selling U.S. Treasury Bills (T-Bills).

M.K. asked Sykes whether he could participate, and in April 2007, Sykes and M.K. entered into an agreement in which M.K. would solicit investors to participate in the T-Bill trading program described by Sykes.  The next month, M.K. formed a limited liability company, known as KCG, and began to solicit investors.  Using information Sykes provided, M.K. secured approximately 37 investors who invested approximately $24,617,441.  M.K. sent the money, minus fees he withheld for himself, to Gemstar to be invested by Sykes.  However, unbeknownst to the investors, neither KCG or Gemstar was engaged in any T-Bill trading program at the time of M.K.’s solicitations.

In addition to the funds that M.K. raised, Sykes personally raised approximately $22,488,539 from investors by making representations about a T-Bill trading program that were materially false or omitted material facts.  In fact, none of the money was invested in a T-Bill trading program.  Instead, Sykes and M.K. used some of the money for personal expenses.  Some of the money was invested in ventures that the investors were unaware of and had not given their consent to participate in.  Some of the money was returned to investors, although in some cases, Sykes falsely claimed that the funds represented the return of capital and/or profits from the T-Bill trading program.

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Five Arrested in Orange County-Based ‘Builder Bailout’ Mortgage Fraud Scheme That Fraudulently Purchased Condos

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:01 am

SANTA ANA, CA—Federal authorities have arrested five people allegedly involved in a “builder bailout” real estate scheme that fraudulently purchased more than 100 condominium units around the country with mortgages that mostly went into default, resulting in foreclosures and millions of dollars in losses.

The scheme, which was operated out of Excel Investments and related companies that were based in Irvine and then Santa Ana, allegedly identified new condominium developments in which the builder-owners were struggling to sell units and arranged with the builders to sell the units in return for large commissions. The builders benefitted by making it appear that their condos were selling and maintaining their value, while those involved with the fraudulent sale of the units financially benefitted from the hefty commissions that were concealed from the mortgage lenders. The defendants recruited a number of straw buyers to purchase the properties as “investors” and ensured that they qualified for financing by fabricating important aspects of their loan applications.

The five defendants were arrested yesterday by special agents with the FBI, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General, and IRS-Criminal Investigation. Those taken into custody are:

Aref Abaji, 31, of Aliso Viejo, a real estate agent
Maher Obagi, 26, of Huntington Beach, the brother of Aref Abaji
Jacqueline Burchell, 52, of Orange, an escrow agent
Mohamed Salah, 37, of Mission Viejo
Mohamed El Tahir, 35, of Glen Burnie, Maryland

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January 9, 2013

Carson Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Running Investment Fraud Scheme Involving Wind Energy Technology

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 7:58 pm

LOS ANGELES—A Carson man is in custody today after being sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for running a $1 million scheme that bilked dozens of victims—including a U.S. Army staff sergeant who was serving on active duty in Afghanistan—who thought they were investing in a legitimate wind energy technology business.

James A. Rivera, 42, was sentenced late yesterday by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who remanded the defendant into custody at the conclusion of the hearing. In addition to the 144-month prison term, Judge Wilson ordered Rivera to pay restitution of just more than $1 million, a figure that represents the total amount lost by victims in the case.

At the conclusion of a jury trial in June 2010, Rivera was convicted of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud related to the scheme he ran out of the Carson offices of companies Rivera called Apostles Inc. and Almighty Wind Inc. Through word-of-mouth, telephone conference calls, and seminars conducted over the Internet, Rivera solicited investments in his companies, which he claimed would manufacture and market a revolutionary new form of windmill or “wind turbine” that would be used for electricity production. Beginning in 2007 and continuing into 2009, Rivera marketed his scheme by making numerous false statements, including that the Nigerian government had committed to buying more than $1 billion worth of the windmills, that the International Monetary Fund was providing hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for the business, and that a prominent Hollywood director was planning to purchase the windmills to power the movie set of his next production. Rivera also falsely told investors that he held multiple patents on the windmill design and that he would be mass-producing the windmills within several months. In reality, there were no such customer orders, financing arrangements or patents, and the windmill had never progressed beyond the early design stage.

While Rivera touted his financial integrity and used religious rhetoric and imagery to appeal to investors, Rivera failed to disclose to investors that he had eight prior criminal convictions, five of which were for fraud and fraud-related offenses. Nor did Rivera reveal to investors that he was on probation for one of his prior fraud convictions and was on bail awaiting trial on additional fraud charges filed in California state court.

December 7, 2012

TWO POLICE OFFICERS CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY VIA TEXT AND PHONE CALLS TO ILLEGALLY DISMISS LEGITIMATE TRAFFIC CITATION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 9:31 pm

WESTMINSTER - Two police officers from different agencies were convicted today of conspiring in text messages and phone calls to illegally dismiss a legitimate traffic citation. Erik Michael Krause, 44, and Michael John Zannitto, 47, were both found guilty by a jury of one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. They face a sentence ranging from probation up to one year in jail at their sentencing Jan. 25, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department W-17, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At the time of the crime, Krause was a 22-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) and Zannitto was an 11-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD). The defendants did not know each other prior to the crime.

On Nov. 9, 2011, Krause issued a traffic citation for speeding in the immediate vicinity of a stopped school bus to 32-year-old Jane Doe. He wrote detailed notes regarding the violation on the ticket. Later that same month, Zannitto met Jane Doe at Knott’s Berry Farm. The defendant was off-duty and not in uniform. During this initial meeting, Zannitto told Jane Doe that he could have her traffic citation dismissed.

On Dec. 6, 2011, Zannitto sent Jane Doe a text message requesting a copy of her citation. On Dec. 13, 2011, Zannitto received a text message from Jane Doe, who works in the alcohol industry, in which she included pictures of alcohol and an offer of free alcohol in exchange for getting the traffic citation dismissed.

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December 4, 2012

San Fernando Valley Man Sentenced to 6½ Years in Prison in $13 Million Scheme Involving Non-Existent NASCAR Merchandise

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 6:44 pm

LOS ANGELES - A Chatsworth man was sentenced today to 78 months in federal prison in a long-running Ponzi scheme that took $13.5 million from two dozen victims who thought they were investing in a business that sold NASCAR overstock items.

Eliott Jay Dresher, 66, was sentenced by United States District Judge Phillips S. Gutierrez, who also ordered Dresher to pay $8.8 million in restitution – the total amount of losses stemming from Dresher’s fraud scheme.

Judge Gutierrez said that Dresher “lived the scheme, perpetuating it for about 11 years,” and that the defendant fabricated “elaborate stories of his contacts,” and even forged attorney letters in an effort to prove the existence of $70 million he falsely claimed to have. Judge Gutierrez said the “impact of the offense was devastating for some victims…. At a time when they should be looking forward to retirement, they are forced to work, likely through old age.”

Dresher solicited investments primarily from family members, long-term friends, and other victims who were told that their money would be used to purchase overstock and excess apparel items related to NASCAR. Dresher falsely told investors that he purchased the overstock NASCAR items and then sold them at a profit to stores such as Costco and Ross Dress for Less. In reality, Dresher had no relationship with NASCAR or any NASCAR-licensed manufacturer or distributor.

As a result of the scheme, 25 families lost a total of $8.8 million.

November 20, 2012

Australian Jockey Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Laundering Proceeds of Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate and Loan Fraud

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 9:55 pm

RIVERSIDE, California – An Australian man who once worked as a jockey has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for concealing the proceeds of a loan fraud scheme that caused victims to lose more than $5 million in less than eight months.

Christopher J. Woods, 53, of Sydney, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. In addition to the prison term, Judge Phillips ordered Woods to pay $3,510,000 in restitution to victims of the scheme and to pay a $10,000 fine.

Woods pleaded guilty in November 2011 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering, admitting that he conspired with others to transfer stolen money in ways that would prevent victims of a fraud from finding it, including funneling the money through multiple bank accounts in Hong Kong before it was returned to Woods’ personal bank account in Los Angeles.

The underlying loan fraud scheme was perpetrated by brothers Henrik and Hamlet Sardariani, who worked with an escrow officer named Wanda Tenney. The Sardariani brothers defrauded private money lenders by falsely assuring them that the loans they were making were safe, when in fact the brothers had no intention of paying the loans back. Tenney permitted the Sardarianis to use her escrow company to lull the victims into believing their loans were secured.
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November 3, 2012

CAR BUSINESS OWNER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EMBEZZLING PROCEEDS OF CUSTOMER VEHICLES SOLD ON CONSIGNMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 10:28 am

SANTA ANA - A car business owner and operator is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for embezzling the sale proceeds of rare and vintage vehicles sold on consignment. John Calicchio, 63, Costa Mesa, is charged with 14 counts of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, five counts of grand theft by false pretenses, two counts of diversion of funds, and four counts of money laundering with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and loss over $200,000. If convicted, Calicchio faces a maximum sentence of 17 years in state prison. The defendant is being held on $250,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He is expected to be arraigned Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Calicchio is accused of owning and operating EuroMasters Classic Cars in Fountain Valley. Between June 2010 and October 2011, the defendant is accused of entering into consignment agreements with customers to sell their vintage Porsche vehicles. He is accused of selling consignment vehicles in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $47,000 and diverting the proceeds of the sales to his personal and business accounts.

Calicchio is also accused of defrauding victims who purchased and paid for their vehicles in full. The victims were unable to obtain legal titles for their vehicles because the owners holding titles were never paid for through the consignment sales. The defendant is accused of closing his business in October 2011 and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to discharge the debts owed to the owners and purchasers of vehicles he sold on consignment.

November 1, 2012

Diamond Bar Man Arrested on Federal Charges of Running Ponzi that Raised $49 Million from Investors in Day Trading Scheme

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 5:01 pm

LOS ANGELES – Federal agents this morning arrested a Diamond Bar man on federal wire fraud charges that allege he ran an investment scheme that raised $49 million from investors who suffered losses of approximately $32 million after he lost millions on bad trades and spent millions on Ponzi payments and personal expenses such as gambling.

Syed Qaisar Madad, 65, the CEO and co-owner of Technology for Telecommunication and Multimedia, Inc. (TTM), was arrested at his home without incident by Special Agents with the FBI and IRS - Criminal Investigation. Madad is expected to be arraigned on a 16-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

Madad, a native of Pakistan who is now a Canadian citizen residing in the United States as a lawful permanent alien, allegedly bilked investors with false promises that his day-trading method would make consistent, substantial profits. The indictment also alleges that Madad falsely told victims that their money was safe and would be returned to them upon request.

However, as the indictment alleges, Madad was actually running a Ponzi scheme in which he used funds from some investors to repay others. While Madad promised that he would not take any fees or compensation for managing the invested funds, Madad allegedly withdrew investors’ money in cash and used millions of investor funds to pay his own personal expenses and expenses of his wife’s business.

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October 23, 2012

POLICE ASSOCIATION OFFICER MANAGER CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLING OVER $360,000 USING ALTERED PAY CHECKS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 1:38 pm

SANTA ANA - An office manager for the Anaheim Police Association has been charged with embezzling over $360,000 from her employer by changing the amount on her paycheck after it had been signed by her bosses. Cindy Ann Su’a, 46, Whittier, is charged with 117 felony counts of forgery, 23 felony counts of computer access fraud, and two felony counts of willful failure to file tax returns with sentencing enhancements for over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in state prison. Cindy Su’a is being held on $360,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.

Cindy Su’a’s husband John Su’a, 46, Whittier, is charged with two felony counts of willful failure to file tax returns. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison. John Su’a is being held on $20,000 bail.

Both defendants are expected to be arraigned Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Cindy Su’a was the office manager for the Anaheim Police Association and was responsible for all check writing, company credit cards, and bookkeeping. She was the only paid employee with an approximate salary of $65,000 annually.

Between August 2007 and March 2012, Cindy Su’a is accused of embezzling over $360,000 by changing the amount on her paycheck after it had been signed by her bosses. She is accused of using a typewriter correction feature to change her bi-monthly payment amount from $2,489 to $5,489 or $6,489. The defendant is accused of fraudulently paying herself nearly $200,000 one year. Cindy Su’a is also accused of using the association’s online banking to pay her own bills.

For the 2009 and 2010 tax years, Cindy Su’a and her husband John Su’a are accused of failing to file tax returns for their personal income taxes.

This case was discovered when the association President noticed a discrepancy in Cindy Su’a’s intended annual salary and actual income after receiving delinquency notices regarding her failure to file taxes from the Internal Revenue Service.

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