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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 15, 2013

THIRD-STRIKER CONVICTED OF ROBBING TWO BANK OF AMERICA EMPLOYEES OF $30,000 USING GUN AND FAKE BOMB

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:43 pm

*Defendant was coined the “Scanner Bandit” by the FBI in four prior federal bank robberies

FULLERTON - A third-striker was convicted today of robbing two employees of an Orange Bank of America branch and stealing $30,000 in cash by threatening staff and occupants with a firearm and fake bomb. Garry Allen Reeder, 50, Santa Fe Springs, pleaded guilty to the court to two felony counts of second degree robbery, one felony count of false bomb delivery, and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary, with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, the personal use of a firearm, and four 1992 federal prior convictions for Los Angeles County bank robberies. He faces a sentence of 25 years in prison at his sentencing April 12, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. in Department N-13, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2011, Reeder entered a Bank of America branch in Orange under the pretense of opening a checking account. He sat down at a desk with a bank employee and opened a day planner containing what appeared to be a bomb. The bomb was later determined to be fake. Reeder threatened two employees that they had 30 seconds to provide him $30,000 in cash. As the employees went to the bank’s vault, Reeder lifted his shirt and showed a firearm to bank customers to dissuade them from moving. He stole $30,000 by force and fear, left the fake bomb on a desk, and fled on foot. Bank employees called 911.

The Orange County Bomb Squad, Orange Police Department (OPD), and Federal Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene and investigated the case. Reeder was arrested Jan. 7, 2011, by OPD at a hotel in Corona. At the time of his arrest, Reeder was in possession of $19,000 in marked bills. Reeder had spent $11,000 of the stolen money on hotel rooms, rental cars, and other personal expenses.

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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January 10, 2013

Former Lynwood School Official Sentenced to Eight Years in State Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:21 pm

LOS ANGELES – A former official of the Lynwood Unified School District who admitted diverting more than $700,000 in public money over four years to pay for personal expenses was sentenced today to eight years in state prison, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan also ordered William Douglas Agopian, 61, of Santa Ana, to pay $700,000 in restitution to the Lynwood Unified School District and $121,220 to the Franchise Tax Board, said Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani of the Public Integrity Division.

Agopian pleaded guilty in November to one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and filing a false tax return.

Agopian, the district’s former chief business officer, admitted taking the money from a bank account that had been established to facilitate a sister-city trip to Mexico for Lynwood students, the prosecutor said.

December 19, 2012

FIREFIGHTER CHARGED WITH STEALING $40 FROM WALLET IN FIRE STATION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 7:05 pm

NEWPORT BEACH - A firefighter has been charged with stealing $40 from a wallet in his Irvine fire station. Gregory Mark Konishi, 49, Rancho Santa Margarita, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of burglary and faces a sentence ranging from probation up to two years in jail if convicted. He is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 27, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At the time of the crime, Konishi was a firefighter with the Orange County Fire Authority and worked in an Irvine fire station.

Prior to Sept. 28, 2012, a fire captain working in the same station as the defendant observed that small amounts of cash were missing periodically from his wallet. The captain subsequently placed a small, hidden video camera in his room at the fire station.

On Sept. 28, 2012, and Oct. 22, 2012, Konishi is accused of entering the victim’s room at the fire station and stealing $20 each time from the victim’s wallet without the victim’s knowledge or consent.

The Irvine Police Department investigated this case.

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 30, 2012

FIANCÉ OF MAN INDICTED BY GRAND JURY FOR 2010 DOUBLE MURDER OF NEIGHBOR AND NEIGHBOR’S FRIEND CHARGED AS ACCESSORY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 9:06 pm

*Orange County District Attorney seeking death penalty against defendant Daniel Wozniak

SANTA ANA - The fiancé of a man indicted by the Orange County Grand Jury for the double execution-style murder of his neighbor and neighbor’s friend for financial gain will be arraigned tomorrow for being an accessory to the crime. Rachel Mae Buffett, 25, Costa Mesa, is charged with three felony counts of accessory after the fact. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years and 8 months in state prison. Buffett is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

In 2010, Buffett is accused of becoming engaged to 28-year-old Daniel Patrick Wozniak. They are accused of planning to marry May 28, 2010 in Long Beach, a week after the murders of 26-year-old Samuel Herr and Herr’s friend, 23-year-old Juri “Julie” Kibuishi.

Circumstances of the Crime
Prior to May 21, 2010, Wozniak is accused of plotting the murder of his neighbor, Herr, who lived in the same apartment complex with the intention of stealing the victim’s substantial savings. On the afternoon of May 21, 2010, Wozniak is accused of luring Herr from their Costa Mesa apartment complex and driving him to the theater facility at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. Wozniak is accused of being familiar with the theater because he had previously acted in plays at that location.

Once inside the theater, Wozniak is accused of murdering Herr by shooting him twice in the head with the intention of stealing the victim’s savings. He is accused of leaving Herr’s body in the theater and stealing the victim’s ATM card, wallet, and cell phone.

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November 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES-AREA DOCTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRING TO DEFRAUD MEDICARE OF OVER $11 MILLION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 7:32 pm

WASHINGTON— A Los Angeles-area doctor pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud Medicare of over $11 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California; Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG); Bill L. Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Tony Sidley, Assistant Chief of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.

Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putten, 66, of Ladera Heights, Calif., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge George Wu in the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Van Putten pleaded guilty to obtaining patients for his medical clinic, Greater South Bay Medical Group, which was located in Carson, Calif., and a nursing home where he also saw patients from street-level patient recruiters or “marketers” who illegally solicited patients with Medicare benefits for expensive, highly-specialized power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment (DME) that the patients did not need.  According to the indictment to which Van Putten pleaded guilty, some of the marketers worked for the operators of fraudulent DME supply companies, including Van Putten’s co-defendants Charles Agbu, a church pastor, and his daughter Obiageli Agbu, who both operated Bonfee Inc. d/b/a “Bonfee Medical Supplies” and Ibon Inc., which were located in Carson.

Van Putten admitted that operators of fraudulent DME supply companies paid him cash kickbacks to write prescriptions for power wheelchairs and other DME that Van Putten knew the patients did not need.  Van Putten admitted that he exaggerated the symptoms and diagnoses that he wrote on the prescriptions to make it appear as if the patients met both the medical and Medicare requirements for the power wheelchairs and DME.  Van Putten admitted that he knew when he provided the prescriptions to the DME company operators that they would use the prescriptions to submit false claims to Medicare.  Van Putten also admitted that he submitted claims to Medicare for services that he provided to the patients at Greater South Bay and the nursing home even though he knew it was illegal for him to provide services to patients who had been recruited by marketers.

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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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