Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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Brookdale employed Prather to review Medicare claims before their submission for payment. Many of these claims were missing required certifications from physicians attesting to the need for the medical services provided. Certifications must “be obtained at the time the plan of care is established or as soon thereafter as possible.” 42 C.F.R. 424.22(a)(2).Prather filed a complaint under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729, alleging an implied false certification theory. The district court dismissed her complaint. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part, holding that Prather had pleaded two claims with the required particularity and that the claims submitted were false. On remand, the district court dismissed Prather's Third Amended Complaint in light of the Supreme Court’s 2016 clarification of the materiality element of an FCA claim. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Prather sufficiently alleged the required materiality element; the timing requirement in section 424.22(a)(2) is an express condition of payment and Prather alleges that the government paid the claims submitted by the defendants without knowledge of the non-compliance, making those payments irrelevant to the question of materiality. Section 424.22(a)(2) is a mechanism of fraud prevention, which the government has consistently emphasized in guidance regarding physician certifications and Prather adequately alleged “reckless disregard” of compliance and whether this requirement was material. View "Prather v. Brookdale Senior Living Community" on Justia Law

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As a school principal, Buendia took kickbacks from Shy. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) paid Shy for supplies he never delivered. Some of the money came from the federal government. The FBI searched Shy’s home and found a ledger of kickbacks Shy owed Buendia. Buendia was convicted of federal-programs bribery, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B), and sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting her argument that the district court violated her constitutional right to present a complete defense when it excluded evidence of her kickback expenditures and the alleged receipts of expenditures for school purposes. The right to present a complete defense yields to reasonable evidentiary restrictions. The court correctly excluded as irrelevant evidence of how Buendia spent the kickback money and correctly excluded the receipts of school expenditures as hearsay. Regardless of how Buendia eventually spent the money, she “corruptly solicit[ed]” it because, by awarding contracts to Shy in exchange for kickbacks, she subverted the normal bidding process in a manner inconsistent with her duty to obtain goods and services for her school at the best value. Nor did the government open the door" by introducing testimony that Buendia bought massages using a gift card from Shy to show that she accepted kickbacks. View "United States v. Buendia" on Justia Law

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The Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), designed to increase recruiting to the Air National Guard during the “War on Terror” was run by Docupak, a private corporation. Docupak selected and trained Recruiting Assistants (RAs) to find and direct potential airmen to full-time recruiters. The program paid a $1,000 pre-loaded gift card upon actual enlistment of a potential airman and another $1,000 upon the airman’s completion of training. The RAs were to identify individuals that were not already working with a full-time recruiter and were prohibited from splitting the payment with full-time recruiters. Osborne, a full-time recruiter, was accused of referring names of pre-existing recruits to RA Andolsek so that they could claim the incentive, with kickbacks to Osborne. Osborne was charged with aiding Andolsek in embezzling from the Department of Defense, 18 U.S.C. 641; 18 U.S.C. 2, which “caused” the Department to reimburse Docupak for $9,000. Andolsek pleaded guilty and testified against Osborne. Osborne argued that the funds were stolen from a private contractor, so they only violated Docupak’s internal policy, not a federal regulation. The Sixth Circuit reversed Osborne’s conviction. No reasonable jury could have found that the funds were something of value to the government beyond a reasonable doubt, given the evidence of control. The government did not retain a reversionary interest in the funds and imposed few restrictions. Docupak gave the government access to information, but the government did not retain the right to conduct audits. View "United States v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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The Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), designed to increase recruiting to the Air National Guard during the “War on Terror” was run by Docupak, a private corporation. Docupak selected and trained Recruiting Assistants (RAs) to find and direct potential airmen to full-time recruiters. The program paid a $1,000 pre-loaded gift card upon actual enlistment of a potential airman and another $1,000 upon the airman’s completion of training. The RAs were to identify individuals that were not already working with a full-time recruiter and were prohibited from splitting the payment with full-time recruiters. Osborne, a full-time recruiter, was accused of referring names of pre-existing recruits to RA Andolsek so that they could claim the incentive, with kickbacks to Osborne. Osborne was charged with aiding Andolsek in embezzling from the Department of Defense, 18 U.S.C. 641; 18 U.S.C. 2, which “caused” the Department to reimburse Docupak for $9,000. Andolsek pleaded guilty and testified against Osborne. Osborne argued that the funds were stolen from a private contractor, so they only violated Docupak’s internal policy, not a federal regulation. The Sixth Circuit reversed Osborne’s conviction. No reasonable jury could have found that the funds were something of value to the government beyond a reasonable doubt, given the evidence of control. The government did not retain a reversionary interest in the funds and imposed few restrictions. Docupak gave the government access to information, but the government did not retain the right to conduct audits. View "United States v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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Porter, the mayor of Paintsville, Kentucky, steered business and contracts to companies owned by his co-defendant, Crace, and ensured payment of a fraudulent invoice to Crace’s company, in return for payments disguised as loans. Porter was charged with theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(A), and bribery concerning such programs, section 666(a)(1)(B) and was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the conviction under section 666(a)(1)(B) was unsupported by sufficient evidence and that the admission of a witness’s prior statements to investigators and the admission of another witness’s deposition testimony violated his confrontation rights. A conviction under section 666(a)(1)(B) does not require evidence of a quid pro quo “in connection with” any “official act.” It is enough if a defendant corruptly solicits anything of value with the intent to be influenced or rewarded in connection with some transaction involving property or services worth $5000 or more. Testimony concerning prior statements to investigators did not violate Porter’s confrontation rights because they were not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The government sufficiently demonstrated the unavailability of the deposition witness to testify at trial, so no Confrontation Clause violation occurred. View "United States v. Porter" on Justia Law

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Westine completed a 235-month sentence for securities fraud, and, within months, began offering investments in oil wells. Prospective investors were promised their “[f]irst monthly check within 90 days.” Investors never received royalties; they complained to the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions, which concluded that the companies were selling unlawful securities and obtained a restraining order. Westine and Ramer, his partner, began winding down the companies and transitioning to new companies that collected over $2 million from 138 investors, who never received checks. Ramer oversaw call centers, developed a promotional video that boasted a fictional production capacity of 75 barrels per day, and organized a trip, during which investors were introduced to another co-conspirator, Cornell, who provided a tour of his oil facility, to create an appearance of legitimacy. Defendants began to shift operations to a new company, and, in less than two months, collected $242,233 from 12 investors. Defendants were charged with 29 counts of mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341; conspiracy to commit money laundering, 18 U.S.C. 1956(h); and securities fraud, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b). A jury found each Defendant guilty. The court sentenced Westine to 480 months’ and Ramer to 156 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the admission of “prior acts” evidence and rejecting various hearsay challenges. Given the evidence against the Defendants, later-discovered evidence that Cornell was running a side deal is insufficient to warrant remand. View "United States v. Ramer" on Justia Law

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Michael, a licensed pharmacist at Chapmanville's Aracoma Pharmacy, separately co-owns another West Virginia pharmacy and one in Pennsylvania. The government suspected that Michael used the pharmacies to distribute on-demand prescription drugs, worth more than $4 million, over the Internet. A grand jury returned a multi-count indictment. Count 7 charged Michael with fraudulently submitting a claim for payment to Humana for dispensing medication that was never dispensed (18 U.S.C. 1347). Count 8 charged him with committing aggravated identity theft by using the “identifying information” of a doctor and a patient “in relation to the [health care fraud] offense” (18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1), (c)(11)). Michael had submitted a claim to Humana indicating that A.S. (doctor) had prescribed Lovaza for P.R., including the doctor’s National Provider Identifier and the patient’s name and birth date. A.S. was not P.R.’s doctor and did not issue the prescription. Section 1028A requires a person to “assume the identity” of someone else; the district court held that the statute covered only “impersonation,” and dismissed Count 8. The Sixth Circuit reversed. To “use” a means of identification is to “convert to one’s service” or “employ” the means of identification. Michael used A.S. and P.R.’s identifying information to fashion a fraudulent submission, making the misuse of these means of identification “during and in relation to” healthcare fraud. View "United States v. Michael" on Justia Law

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Michael, a licensed pharmacist at Chapmanville's Aracoma Pharmacy, separately co-owns another West Virginia pharmacy and one in Pennsylvania. The government suspected that Michael used the pharmacies to distribute on-demand prescription drugs, worth more than $4 million, over the Internet. A grand jury returned a multi-count indictment. Count 7 charged Michael with fraudulently submitting a claim for payment to Humana for dispensing medication that was never dispensed (18 U.S.C. 1347). Count 8 charged him with committing aggravated identity theft by using the “identifying information” of a doctor and a patient “in relation to the [health care fraud] offense” (18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1), (c)(11)). Michael had submitted a claim to Humana indicating that A.S. (doctor) had prescribed Lovaza for P.R., including the doctor’s National Provider Identifier and the patient’s name and birth date. A.S. was not P.R.’s doctor and did not issue the prescription. Section 1028A requires a person to “assume the identity” of someone else; the district court held that the statute covered only “impersonation,” and dismissed Count 8. The Sixth Circuit reversed. To “use” a means of identification is to “convert to one’s service” or “employ” the means of identification. Michael used A.S. and P.R.’s identifying information to fashion a fraudulent submission, making the misuse of these means of identification “during and in relation to” healthcare fraud. View "United States v. Michael" on Justia Law

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Harris, a registered stockbroker, and his co-conspirators, including government witness Durand, agreed to recommend shares of Zirk de Maison’s companies to clients in exchange for commissions. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority began an investigation and questioned Harris and Durand on wire transfers from certain organizations controlled by de Maison. The two told investigators that the deposits resulted from selling expensive watches, and sent letters to FINRA summarizing this fictitious explanation. After Harris was arrested, he purportedly called and texted Durand on multiple occasions, instructing him to stick with their story. Durand later admitted that the watch story was entirely false. Harris was convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud or wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, 1348, 1349; obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1503, and three counts of wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343. The district court sentenced Harris to 63 months’ imprisonment and $843,423.91 in restitution. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court abused its discretion by not allowing Harris to introduce a prior inconsistent statement for impeachment of a government witness. The court upheld the admission of government summary exhibits and a jury instruction relating to stockbroker’s fiduciary duties. Harris presented a colorable claim of extraneous influence on a juror, so the court abused its discretion by failing to hold a "Remmer" evidentiary hearing or by denying defense counsel’s request to question the juror and his friend. View "United States v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Individuals reprogrammed ATMs to dispense $20 bills for each $1 they were supposed to dispense. Requesting $40 at a compromised ATM would deliver 40 $20 bills instead of two. More than $600,000 was taken from ATMs owned by SafeCash Systems. SafeCash investigated and found evidence that a former employee who serviced the machines, Folad, and his friend, Fattah, engineered the scheme. They turned the information over to the government, resulting in several criminal convictions, one-year sentences for Folad and Fattah, and a restitution order. After the scheme ended and after SafeCash determined what had happened, SafeCash replaced 17 of the relevant 18 ATMs in response to a federal regulation requiring that they be accessible to individuals with sight impairments. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions and sentences, rejecting an argument that destruction of the ATMs amounted to the destruction of potentially exculpatory evidence and violated the defendants’ due process rights. SafeCash, not the government, made the decision to replace the machines. Even if the government had been involved in the destruction of the machines, there was no indication that they contained potentially exculpatory evidence. View "United States v. Folad" on Justia Law