A 52-year-old Miami businessman has been given a 20 year prison sentence for his apparent role in a Medicare fraud scheme.

His eight homes around Miami-Dade County, at least three cars, and a meat supermarket have been seized as a part of his $66 million in restitution.

He apparently owns 19 healthcare agencies as well. According to court documents, he tried to hide his ownership of the health agencies as part of yet another massive South Florida Medicare scam.

He apparently recruited others to falsely and fraudulently represent themselves to be the owners of the agencies in order to hide his identity and ownership interest, according to the court documents. These nominee owners completed and signed Medicare enrollment applications that fraudulently misrepresented the identities of the agencies’ ownership interest and managing control of the true owners and failed to disclose the man’s ownership interest and managing control of the agency, contrary to Medicare’s requirements.

From 2007 through 2015, the man and his nominees are accused of paying patient recruiters kickbacks to refer Medicare beneficiaries to the man’s owned facilities. The facilities billed Medicare for expensive healthcare services such as physical therapy and home health. Most of the referred beneficiaries didn’t quality for home health services or the services were imaginary.

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance to all American citizens over the age of 65. The government treats medicare fraud quite seriously and will prosecute anyone suspected of defrauding the program.

Continue Reading

A new pedestrian bridge scheduled to open near the campus of Florida International University collapsed today and officials have confirmed multiple fatalities.

At least two people were taken to ambulances while others were being treated by rescue crews, and at least two cars were seen pinned by massive slabs of concrete.

According to NBC 6, the bridge has completely collapsed.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has treated a total of five patients so far, with one being transported as a trauma alert to Kendall Regional Hospital.

The 174 foot bridge, scheduled to open to the public in early 2019, crossed Southwest 8th Street near 109th Avenue and was built with the purpose of allowing students living across the busy roadway to cross safely.

Bridges are an essential part of life. They help us get to and from where we are travelling to by providing roadways and walkways to motorists and pedestrians. While the possibility of a bridge collapsing is rare, when that does happen, the aftermath can be a devastating reality.

Many accidents involving bridges occur during the construction or repair process. In many cases bridges in the process of being built or repaired cannot handle the stress of the procedures or the weight of the equipment and accidents happen. Workers, motorists, pedestrians and innocent bystanders can be injured or killed due to ignorance and blatant disregard for safety procedures.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a construction mishap, please let our South Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help you through this difficult time. We can investigate the events leading up to the accident and determine who is at fault and hold them responsible for damages.

Continue Reading

A former Broward County assistant principal accused of texting a 17-year-old student about booze, drugs and masturbation won’t be allowed to work in a Florida school for at least a year.

The 46-year-old resigned from his post at a Fort Lauderdale high school last April after a district investigation determined he had sent at least two dozen inappropriate messages to the male student.

There was no indication he had inappropriate physical conduct with the student and he has no record of arrest.

The state Education Practices Commission last month suspended his education license for a year and fined him $1,000. If he wants his license back he must take a college-level course on adolescent development, a state report showed.

The state commission claim the man harmed the student’s well being and his ability to learn.

The man had worked for the district since 2000.

An adult texting a minor for sexual gratification could lead to a sex crime arrest. Although sexting, sending sexually explicit images or text messages, is not illegal in and of itself, certain aspects of the act can make it a criminal offense. Adults sexting minors lewd messages or sexually explicit images could find themselves facing sex crimes charges.

If you have been accused of sexting a minor, you need to act fast to protect yourself from severe criminal consequences. As you can see from this case, your professional career could also be at stake. A sex crimes accusation/charge can follow you around for the rest of your life, so you need to act quickly to secure quality legal representation. Do not speak to police without an attorney, and do not consent to a search of your cell phone or electronics without a warrant.

Continue Reading

Actress Heather Locklear has been arrested for felony domestic violence, according to reports.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office received a call of domestic disturbance in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at 10 p.m. Sunday.

Locklear’s brother called police after allegedly witnessing her and her boyfriend fighting at her Thousand Oaks home.

Responding officers reportedly saw marks on her boyfriend’s body.

When Locklear was arrested, she allegedly became physically aggressive, kicking and eventually hitting three police officers.

The 57-year-old was put in handcuffs and taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Locklear was booked at 1:03 a.m. Monday and released at 5:48 a.m. after posting $20,000 bail.

A court date has been set for March 13.

When an altercation occurs between family members, spouses or even roommates, police are usually quick to make an arrest. The reality is that the arresting officers do not always have the whole story. If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, you need to protect yourself and talk to a criminal defense attorney who can explain your options for defending yourself.

When it comes to domestic violence charges, our South Florida Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that there are two sides to every story. We can help make sure your voice is heard and that your version of events gets the attention it deserves. We will make sure your case gets the personalized attention it deserves whether that means we negotiate for a reduced charge or take your case to trial to prove your innocence.

Continue Reading

A longtime Miami police officer who patrolled the city’s waterways is also accused of running a ponzi scheme, according to feds.  

His alleged pitch: Invest in his Costa Rican loan company and expect returns of over 20 percent.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday morning that the pitch was a scam after announcing criminal charges against the man. They claim the money was used only to enrich himself and pay back early investors.

The 41-year-old was arrested Monday after FBI agents learned he was suddenly flying to Costa Rica because of an “emergency.” Agents arrested the cop while he was boarding a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The man is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Miami internal affairs and the FBI said the man operated his alleged Ponzi scheme between 2011 and 2015.

According to a criminal complaint, he offered “low-risk” investments in his company, which he claimed was giving high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. The loan recipients used their properties in the Central American country as collateral, he said.

But feds claim the man just showed phony paperwork that claimed the company had property rights to land in Costa Rica.

Federal prosecutors did not disclose how much the man is suspected of getting through his investment scheme.

This case is clear example of a white collar crimes arrest. White collar crimes are non-violent offense committed for financial gain. These crimes are often investigated by state or federal agencies, and some of these investigations can carry on for months. Some of these investigations may continue for months. Anyone who is under investigation or has been arrested for a white collar crime should not talk to anyone, especially police, until consulting their legal counsel. Our South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the urgency of your situation and that immediate action must be taken to strengthen your defense.

Anytime police conduct an investigation, they may ask you to explain a few things. Regardless of your innocence, do not make the mistake of answering questions without your attorney present. Police are only looking to incriminate you. Our firm can help you avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt.

At Whittel & Melton, we provide a powerful defense against white collar crimes, including:

  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • RICO
  • Immigrations violations
  • Money laundering
  • Antitrust
  • Medicare and medicaid fraud
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Conspiracy

Continue Reading

A woman sailing on a Carnival Cruise Line ship from Jacksonville fell from her cabin’s balcony and died Jan. 19.

The incident occurred early morning aboard the Carnival Elation. The ship was on a four-day Bahamas cruise from Jacksonville that departed Thursday and was near Freeport, Bahamas at the time of the fall.

The woman fell from the balcony in her stateroom on the 14th deck of the ship to the 11th deck, constituting a two-story fall. The Carnival Elation doesn’t have a 13th deck.

Balconies on the ship meet Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act standards, according to reports.

This is not the first instance of someone falling from a cruise ship deck.  

In October, an 8-year-old Bahamian girl who was tiptoeing over the railing on the fifth floor of the Carnival Glory fell two stories and died. In February, a Georgia man fell overboard from the 11th deck of the Carnival Elation while the ship was near the Bahamas. After searching more than 1,300 square miles, the Coast Guard called off the search for the man a day after the incident.

If you or a loved one was injured in a cruise ship accident or suffered an injury while aboard a cruise ship, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Injuries that happen while aboard a cruise ship are generally subject to maritime law, which governs both domestic law and private international law. With that said, maritime litigation can be quite complex. You need an experienced attorney on your side that is familiar with maritime law. Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury And Maritime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have widespread experience with cruise ship accidents and are equipped to handle maritime litigation.

Continue Reading

Dozens of female University of Miami medical students believe a classmate has been stealing their photos from Facebook and social media and uploading them to sexual fetish websites.

Their car selfies, pics with friends at bars and the beach, even images of them in their graduation gowns have been copied and uploaded to foot-fetish fan sites and even just sites for men who masturbate while viewing images of everyday women — while sometimes photographing themselves doing so. The posts apparently identified the UM women by name, and included lewd captions, some seemingly threatening rape.

The suspected classmate accused of stealing these pics and uploading them to fetish sites is a 25-year-old UM medical student who has been suspended and is now the subject of an internal school investigation. The scandal came to light last week when at least two victims discovered their own photos on the websites and filed for restraining orders against the man.

The man’s behavior was apparently known to the school and classmates.

In a court filing, one student said she complained to the university several times since December 2015 about his “repeated acts of stalking and harassment” and of him taking unauthorized photos of her at a bar. A sexual harassment complaint was filed against the man in April 2016, and UM ordered him to stay away from her, although he was allowed to remain in school, according to her request for a restraining order.

Miami-Dade courts last week issued temporary restraining orders mandating the man keep away from the two women.

The medical school, citing federal laws protecting student privacy, declined to address questions about the man. “It is also our commitment to thoroughly investigate and adjudicate any allegations of inappropriate behavior among our students, while at the same time providing a safe atmosphere as an inquiry moves forward,” according to a statement released by the school.

One of the victims has notified the the State Attorney’s Office, which is reviewing the matter.

But making the case that the postings constitute a crime under state or federal law could be difficult. Why? The photos were posted on bulletin-board type websites that cater to foot fetishes and a niche sometimes known as “creep shots,” in which users fantasize or sexualize photos taken in public places. The problem in cases like these is that photos of the UM students were first published on social media by the women themselves – then co-opted into sexual fantasies.

Continue Reading

The former mayor of North Miami Beach has been charged in an alleged $150,000 land investment scheme.

The man was arrested Tuesday and charged with securities fraud, grand theft, sale of an unregistered security and sale of security by an unregistered dealer.

According to the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office, the man made a series of false investment representations and omitted several facts to an investor who donated $150,000 to the man intended for the development of 2.2 acres of vacant land in North Miami.

An investigation by prosecutors and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation revealed that the partnership failed to gain any additional investors.

Instead of returning the donated $150,000, the money was allegedly used to pay $13,000 toward the former mayor’s home mortgage, $10,000 to his construction company, $86,700 to himself directly and about $30,000 in personal expenses through his construction company, according to police.

Prosecutors said a balance of just $350 was left in the investment account when all was said and done.

The former mayor was being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $20,000 bond.

Securities fraud, otherwise known as investment fraud, is an intentional and deceptive business practice that occurs when a person and/or company conceals financial information to try to influence the purchasing behavior of investors and shareholders. People found guilty of securities fraud can face serious penalties that may include restitution, fines, jail time loss of license and others. If you are facing charges for any type of securities fraud offense, it is critical that you seek the advice of a South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who will fight to protect your interests.

Continue Reading

A 23-year-old motorcyclist was killed Tuesday following a crash in Port St. Lucie, police said.

The motorcyclist was eastbound on Southwest St. Lucie West Boulevard on a 2011 Kawasaki when he crashed into a 2004 Honda Pilot as it turned onto Southwest California Boulevard.

The man struck the Honda at a high rate of speed, police said.

The man driving the Honda sustained minor injuries and was released from a hospital. The motorcyclist died at the scene.

Port St. Lucie police are still investigating the crash.

When a person is involved in a car accident, they have a seatbelt, air bags, and a sturdy car surrounding them as protection in the event of a crash. Even with all these safety features, catastrophic injury can result. Motorcyclist lack most of the protections a car provides to passengers, so you can imagine what damage a motorcyclist can sustain in an accident. Broken bones, neck injuries, back injuries and severe brain trauma are just a few of the possible injuries that could result. Even when wearing a helmet and protective clothing, there is little that a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves from the sheer impact of a car, truck, or the pavement at high speeds.

Continue Reading

A Fort Lauderdale resident was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for tax evasion.

According to documents filed with the court, the 53-year-old man evaded paying taxes on more than $1.5 million in income that he earned from 2002 to 2015. Except for the 2007 tax year, the man has not filed an income tax return since 2002. He worked for a Fort Lauderdale company selling hurricane-resistant windows to residential homeowners in South Florida. In August 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the man of its intent to levy his wages because of his failure to pay taxes. According to reports, the man established his own business and changed his employment status from an employee to an independent contractor to obstruct the IRS’s collection efforts. The man listed himself as the director of the business and opened a business bank account in its name. Due to the man’s change in employment status, his employer paid his business directly and the IRS’s attempts to levy the man’s wages were thwarted.

From approximately August 2009 through April 2017, the man allegedly used his business’ bank account to pay for personal expenses, including rent, cigars, international travel, entertainment, his girlfriend’s cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and a boat. He also apparently falsely classified numerous personal expenses as business expenses on the memo line of the checks drawn on the business bank account.

The man apparently admitted that he made these false entries with the intent to claim false business expense deductions and evade the assessment of his income taxes. The man also apparently admitted that his actions caused a tax loss of more than $351,241.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, the judge ordered the man to serve two years of supervised release and to pay $459,481.03 in restitution to the IRS.

When tax matters turn criminal or have the potential to turn criminal, you must take immediate action to minimize or eliminate the potential consequences. The operative word when dealing with criminal matters is speed: the earlier you have a criminal defense attorney assess the situation and work quickly to resolve the matter, the less the damage can be.

Continue Reading

Contact Information