Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Glendale Healthcare Fraud Defense

Posted on: August 6, 2010 at 12:31 a.m.

All of the cities in Los Angeles, and especially the city of Glendale, have seen their fair share of health care fraud. A recent case was finalized when a Glendale man was sentenced to five years in state prison for running a healthcare fraud and money laundering scheme that took advantage of more than 800 Medicare patients in the Los Angeles area. For anyone facing such a situation, having a Glendale Criminal Defense Attorney representing you can often mean the difference between prison and freedom.

In this particular instance, the man was convicted specifically for using the identities of different doctors to submit around six thousand insurance claims for those 800 patients. He also billed Medicare for over $3 million a month, even though most of the patients were canceled. He deposited $50,000 in different bank accounts, transferring money to himself as well as associates in Armenia. In addition to the jail time, he has to pay over $50,000 in restitution and will be placed on supervised probation after he gets out of jail. In such a difficult situation, having a skilled and knowledgeable Defense Lawyer could have prevented such a severe punishment.

With President Obama's healthcare plan moving forward, healthcare fraud is becoming an increasing area of concern for the government. In fact, many people who go bankrupt do so because of healthcare issues, such as intense medical bills. The issue of overbilling, Medicare fraud and related crimes is punishable by federal law, which is often far more severe than state or local law. As a result, anyone charged with healthcare fraud needs a Attorney who understands and has experience with federal healthcare laws.

People convicted of healthcare fraud will face jail time, fines, restitution, loss of any medical licenses, probation and more. Such penalties can ruin the career of anyone who is employed as a doctor, surgeon, nurse, pharmacist, medical biller or other healthcare professional. This is why it is so vitally important to have a Defense Attorney working for you in any criminal trial involving healthcare fraud. As opposed to trusting a public defender, having a skilled private attorney can mean the difference between freedom and prison (not to mention severe financial penalties). If you have been accused of, charged with or arrested for healthcare fraud, contact Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP today.

Tagged as: high profile defense

Good News for Medical Marijuana?

Posted on: July 30, 2008 at 4:24 p.m.

Members of The House of representatives are proposing legislation that offers a more sensible legal approach to the use of Marijuana.

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965and 11 million since 1990, and "every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested.

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for "all violent crimes combined," meaning that police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

Representatives, Republicans and Democrats, from California, Missouri, Texas and other states have come forward to call for marijuana laws which follow a more common sense approach. Marijuana laws not only imprison many non-violent offenders, they also imprison a disproportionate number of minorities and people of color.

Being arrested is not the American marijuana smoker's only concern, said a member of the Drug Policy Alliance Network. Those found guilty of marijuana use can lose their jobs, financial aid for college, their food stamp and welfare benefits, or their low-cost housing.

The bill proposed, House Resolution 5843, titled the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, would allow "a very small number of individuals" suffering from chronic pain or illness to smoke marijuana with impunity.

If HR 5843 were passed by the House, marijuana smokers could possess up to 100 grams.

Tagged as: high profile defense

Internet Crimes: What Are They and What Are the Consequences?

Posted on: June 12, 2008 at 10:29 a.m.

Every so often a new medium for communication comes along and brings with it a new field for the law. The Internet is nothing new in terms of historic advancements in the technology, however it is a new arena for the law. Internet crimes are many, and they include everthing from identity theft to sexual offenses.

An Internet crime is defined as any crime that involves the Internet. For example, when an individual over the age of 18 contacts someone under the age of 18 through the Internet for the purposes of a sexual encounter, that is an Internet crime. One of the challenges for the accused is that many Internet crimes can also be federal offenses and can carry with them far greater charges than the same crime committed under state jurisdiction. For sex crimes, if the offender contacts someone under age that is also in another state, then that's a double whammy as crossing state lines also makes it a federal offense.

Internet crimes include kidnapping, sexual offense, bank robbery, credit car fraud, harassment, phishing, scams, espionage and more. The level of offense can range from smaller crimes to major felonies, however due to the amount of research and investigation it usually takes to charge and convict someone of an Internet crime, most cases are on a grand scale.

Protecting children is often a major focus for Internet crime laws, as children as the most vulnerable. Using chat rooms to contact children for sexual purposes or with other unsavery motives is against the law. Having an attorney with experience and knowledge in defending the accused in Internet crimes is vital, as the law is ever changing and only someone with experience will be able to provide a solid defense.

Tagged as: high profile defense, internet crimes defense, sex crime accusations, theft, white collar crime fraud theft laws

Illegal Narcotics and the U.S./Mexico Border

Posted on: June 10, 2008 at 10:54 a.m.

Southern California has a number of factors affecting it which causes the laws throughout the state to often look strange to the rest of the nation. One such factor is the border that California shares with Mexico. Prosecuting drug laws can be difficult due to the challenges of having to extradite criminals across both sides of the border, and the differing drug laws in each nation. Other states bordering Mexico include Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Recently, a drunk driver plowed into a bicycle race near the Mexican border in Texas. Part of the challenge in attempting to prosecute is the citizenship of the individuals injured as well as the individual accused. Drug policies can be even more difficult, as witnesses may not have citizenship in the country they witnessed the crime, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to get them to testify.

The popular television bounty hunter Dwayne "The Dog" Chapman had his challenges with this issue as he arrested an American citizen while he was in Mexico, which violates Mexican law. Smuggling drugs across the border is a federal offense, and could bring charges on both sides of the border.

If you would like to talk to an experienced attorney regarding drug related charges, or any other criminal matter, please contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, drug crimes defense, high profile defense

Los Angeles Federal Crimes: Corrupt Cops on Trial

Posted on: January 16, 2008 at 12:15 a.m.

Who says there is no corruption in the police? Prosecutors frequently argue in drug possession cases that the officers finding the drugs are honest and reliable, such that their testimony should be believed. L.A. Criminal Defense Lawyers retort that we live in an imperfect world and that there are a few "bad apples" in any profession. It is left up the jury to decide whether the police, or that accused are telling the truth.

So what happens when the accused on trial are police officers? And further that the government uses others disgraced officers, as their witnesses, in their case in chief to prove corruption? A current criminal jury trial in Los Angeles provides an example of dirty dealing by local LAPD officers. During recent testimony, a former state corrections officer, sitting handcuffed in court, identified a Los Angeles police officer accused of participating in a series of home-invasion-style robberies staged to look like legitimate police raids, who is on trial. Rodrigo Duran, the former prison guard, told a federal court jury that he witnessed ex-LAPD officer William Ferguson commit several crimes while dressed in his police uniform, riding in a patrol car stolen from the police academy.

When asked to identify Ferguson for the record, Duran raised his cuffed hands and pointed a finger at the defendant, who sat impassively in a dark suit next to his attorney. Ferguson and his brother Joseph, a suspended Long Beach police officer, went on trial this week for their alleged involvement in a band of rogue officers and others accused of committing more than 30 robberies or attempted robberies at locations across Southern California.

These are not the only defendants, who are former police officers. The admitted ringleader in the case -- a former Los Angeles police officer Ruben Palomares -- and 14 other defendants have already pleaded guilty, and many have begun serving sentences in federal prison. The Ferguson brothers are the only defendants thus far to fight the charges detailed in a 54-count indictment alleging civil rights violations.

William Ferguson is accused of posing as Palomares' partner during many of the robberies, in which the officers and others allegedly stole drugs, money and other valuables while pretending to conduct narcotics raids between 1999 and 2001. Joseph Ferguson is accused of driving his brother and Palomares to the LAPD academy to steal cars to be used in the robberies and of acting as a lookout outside some of the locations while they were being robbed. He is also accused of making a fake 911 call that resulted in the arrest and eventual imprisonment of one of the drug dealers who had been providing information to them but was asking for a larger share of the take.

Prosecutors plan to call victims from at least 15 of the robberies to testify, according to a 43-page trial memorandum by Assistant U.S. Atty. Douglas M. Miller, the lead prosecutor on the case. They also plan to call Palomares to testify against his alleged former cohorts. Much of the testimony this week came from victims of robberies, who described people dressed as police arriving at their residences, saying they were there to search for drugs. Some said they were held at gunpoint or handcuffed as their houses were searched. One man wiped away tears as he described a 2001 encounter in which he said he was beaten with a baton and hit over the head with a sap because the "officers" didn't find the drugs they were looking for.

The most dramatic testimony came out recently when jurors began hearing from Duran, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. He faces a potential life sentence but stands to receive a significant reduction as a result of his cooperation. Duran said he was recruited to join the ring by Palomares, a former high school buddy in Huntington Park. Duran said Palomares told him that another old friend -- this one a drug dealer -- was tipping him off to where rival dealers had stashes of drugs or cash. Under the deal they had worked out, Duran said, Palomares and his companions would show up at the locations dressed as police and say they were there to serve a search warrant for drugs. If they found any, they would turn them over to his dealer friend and her husband to sell and then get a cut of the profit. If they found money, they would split it.

"He said we'd be able make some money by doing the jobs she wanted us to do," Duran recalled under questioning by prosecutor Jeffrey S. Blumberg from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. Duran described several "jobs" he participated in along with Palomares and other crew members, including William Ferguson. Duran said Palomares and Ferguson would wear their LAPD uniforms, along with guns and badges, and employ police tactics while conducting the robberies. At one point, Duran said he looked on as the two officers, both in uniform, loaded a stolen 50-gallon drum filled with marijuana into the back of pickup truck owned by Palomares' cousin. Duran said the drugs were later sold and he received a $3,500 cut of the profit.

Blumberg asked Duran, who had no previous criminal record, why he accepted Palomares' invitation to become involved in the ring. "Greed," he said. "It was all about trying to help myself out because I was hurting financially." "Did you think you'd get caught?" the prosecutor asked.
"Never," Duran replied. "Why's that?" Blumberg asked. "Because we were law enforcement."

In sum, Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers must often present compelling arguments to a jury about why a client's story of police corruption is believable, despite the officers' denials. The pending trial of corrupt cops provides a great example that officers may be imperfect, have the same temptations as the rest of the public, and lie to cover up corruption.

Tagged as: federal law and defense, high profile defense

Grand Jury Investigation of High-Profile Individuals: Indictments of Barry Bonds in California, and Bernard Kerik in New York

Posted on: November 16, 2007 at 6:24 a.m.

What is a Grand Jury? A grand jury investigates civil and criminal matters in proceedings closed to the public. A civil grand jury investigates the operation, management, and fiscal affairs of the county and the cities in the county. A criminal grand jury has constitutional authority to indict a suspect after finding probable cause that he or she committed an offense. The prosecutor presents the case to the grand jury in the form of testimony and other evidence and may answer questions that members of the grand jury have concerning the law. A grand jury is not supposed to receive evidence that would be inadmissible over objection at trial. However, even if the grand jury hears evidence that would be inadmissible at trial, the indictment is not void if there is sufficient competent evidence to support the indictment. Once the presentation of evidence is completed, the grand jury deliberates in secret. A 19-member grand jury may bring an indictment when 12 or more jurors conclude that the evidence presented establishes probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense. Probable cause is the same standard used by the magistrate at a preliminary hearing: whether the evidence would lead a person to believe and conscientiously entertain a strong suspicion of the guilt of the accused.

Why are celebrities and public officials often investigated through Grand Juries? The proceedings are secret investigations, witnesses are ordered not to reveal what they testified to in front of the Grand Jury, and thus the media is often unaware that an investigation is even happening, or the details surrounding it. The grand jury process often precludes the glare of media attention on witnesses, as well as the subjects of the investigation. The process is fair, in part, because an ongoing grand jury investigation does not mean someone will necessary be indicted for a crime. Thus, if there is insufficient evidence for an indictment, a person's name and reputation may be preserved without the taint of a public criminal investigation picked apart by the media. On the other hand, the prosecutors can coax reluctant witnesses to testify, and can take years to gather evidence and testimony they need to a build a case against a target. Also, the "secret" aspect of the process harkens back to the inquisitorial processes in criminal courts centuries ago.

Keep in mind that an indictment is just a criminal accusation made by a grand jury. The defendant still has the right to a jury trial to defend himself. Recent examples of grand juries investigations of high-profile figures include baseball player Barry Bonds and Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernand Kerik.

Barry Bonds was indicted today. The slugger became baseball's all-time home run king in August, and was charged by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after a four-year investigation into whether he lied under oath about his use of steroids. Bonds, 43, faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco announced. (The Indictment Reads: "Bonds is charged with knowingly and willfully making false material statements regarding his use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances while under oath during his testimony before the federal grand jury that was conducting the investigation into [BALCO], and with obstructing justice in the same investigation," the office said in a news release.) BALCO founder Victor Conte pleaded guilty to distributing steroids after a 2003 raid of his company by the Internal Revenue Service, and Bonds would later tell a grand jury investigating BALCO that he may have unknowingly received designer steroid products known as "the cream" and "the clear." In testimony leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds said he believed one of the products was flaxseed oil, a claim met by doubts from those who watched him increase his previous season-high home run total of 46 to a record-breaking 73 in 2001. Bonds' insistence of unknowing steroid use launched a subsequent grand jury that investigated whether he had committed perjury.

Bernard Keric, the former New York City police commissioner and protege of presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani, appears to be drawing to a close with a possible indictment. A grand jury that has been hearing evidence for several months on whether Keric committed tax evasion and other charges, The investigation stemmed from a $240,000 renovation of Kerik's apartment in 1999. Authorities alleged that most of the work was paid for by mob-connected builders who sought his help winning city contracts -- a charge he denied until a misdemeanor guilty plea in state court last year. Before the scandal broke, Giuliani endorsed Kerik's nomination in 2004 to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik then announced he was withdrawing as President Bush's nominee because of tax issues involving a former nanny.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, high profile defense

Charges in State Court v. Federal Court

Posted on: July 1, 2007 at 8:25 p.m.

Federal court cases are typically investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Customs, Treasury, and other federal agencies. Sometimes state and local agencies also file charges in federal court if the offenses involve major quantity of drugs, weapons or other contraband. The federal government has more resources to prosecute cases, including special units to prosecute drugs, fraud, and violent crimes. While the state and local government also has special units, they have fewer prosecutors, with larger case loads. Also, local law enforcement does not have nearly an many resources to complete investigations with as much thoroughness as federal law enforcement. For the most part, it is definitely in a criminal defendant's interest to be prosecuted in state, rather than federal court. The state of California's sentencing system has more flexibility in terms of alternative sentencing options than the United States Sentencing Guidelines. In one large drug cases, a criminal defense attorney had his client cooperate with the police in exchange for the case to be presented to the state, rather than federal authorities for prosecution

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense, high profile defense

How are criminal charges filed in court after someone is arrested?

Posted on: April 23, 2007 at 12:49 p.m.

The police officers that make the arrest complete all police reports about the crime, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation before submitting their work to a detective. As an example, in a domestic violence case, the detective in the assault unit usually follows up by contacting the witnesses and the alleged victim, to confirm whether the statements obtained by the responding officers were accurate and thorough. Often, this is they most propitious time for a defense lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a Pre-Filing Intervention, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. The police then bring their entire investigation to the District Attorney's Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge. If charges are filed, the next step in the criminal process is in court, at an Arraignment. The law firm of Kestebaum Eisner & Gorin LLP is a criminal defense firm discussing aggressive prefiling intervention with the prosecutor's office.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense, high profile defense

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