All of May is Bike Month and today is National Bike to Work Day.

The idea behind both Bike to Work Day/Month is to promote bicycle commuting as a wonderful alternative to driving to work. Since Florida has a pretty much moderate year-round climate, it is very easy to see why many workers opt to ditch their cars for a more planet-friendly bike ride to work. There are other various reasons to bike instead of drive, including:

  • It’s cheaper: According to various reports, it only costs about $300 a year to keep your bike in tip top shape. If you think about it, that’s nearly 30 times less than the yearly upkeep on a car. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on gas!
  • It’s great exercise: If losing weight is on your agenda, then get this: bike commuters lose an average of 13 pounds in the first year they start biking to work. It’s also a good cardio workout, so you can skip gym.
  • You can kiss all that traffic goodbye: Biking lets you bypass all the waiting, and you can save yourself more than $700 a year because you won’t be burning gas while stuck in traffic.
  • Less sick days than public transportation users: According to the New York Daily News, public transit riders are “six times more likely to suffer from acute respiratory infections.”
  • Parking won’t be a problem: No more spending time circling parking lots or garages. Most commercial office buildings have bike racks where you can park your bike. If not, there’s always a tree or sign post to chain your bike to.

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Crews have apparently found cracks in a key part of the pedestrian bridge that collapsed near the campus of Florida International University earlier than previously acknowledged, but it remains unclear whether the fissures caused the structure’s failure.

Documents from Florida International University show the cracks were found in late February. The structure collapsed March 15, killing six people.

Reports indicate that the photos show the cracks in a piece of a support truss on the north end of the span where the collapse began.

Bridge engineers have said that the cracks suggest a problem that should have been addressed before the section that failed was moved into place.

It is not yet clear whether construction crews repaired the cracks before the failure.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the collapse.

According to investigators, most bridge collapses happen because of construction faults, not design faults. However, until the National Transportation Safety Board completes their investigation, it’s hard to say what might have gone wrong or speculate on who could potentially be held responsible. There are several different parties involved in the design, testing, and construction of the bridge. It is entirely possible that multiple parties will be held accountable for negligence when all is said and done.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a construction-related accident, our South Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you determine what steps to take next. Our goal is to identify who is at fault and hold them responsible for damages.

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CityMD, a popular chain of 88 urgent care centers mostly in the New York metropolitan area, has agreed to pay $6.6 million for submitting false claims to Medicare, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The payment settles a civil fraud lawsuit brought by a whistleblower and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.

CityMD is accused of improperly billing Medicare at a significant cost to taxpayers.

The settlement is a way to hold CityMD accountable both through the significant monetary payment and the detailed admissions made by CityMD.

As part of the settlement, CityMD apparently admitted it tricked Medicare by billing the federal program for lengthier and more complex procedures than its doctors actually performed.

The urgent care centers also confessed to billing Medicare for services performed by physicians not credentialed with the federal program.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office joined a whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit that had been filed under seal until the settlement was reached.

Being accused of collecting illegitimate healthcare funds from the federal government is a serious offense, and if this is proven in court, you could be facing pretty severe consequences. Medicare fraud is punished much more severely now than ever before. Punishments for this type of fraud generally stem from the federal sentencing guidelines. Depending on the offense, penalties can include maximum sentences ranging from 6 months to decades in prison, along with hefty fines. Moreover, restitution payments for wrongfully obtained funds will be ordered to reimburse the federal government.

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A former University of Florida football player was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison and ordered to pay about $18 million for a healthcare fraud conspiracy that stripped millions from the TRICARE program for military members, veterans and their families, according to federal court records.

The 46-year-old man, who played for Steve Spurrier’s Gators from 1990-93, was accused in a 49-count indictment of hiring an independent marketing team that included former Florida and NFL quarterback Shane Matthews in a conspiracy to fleece the TRICARE program.

The man maintained his innocence and denied what the prosecuting attorney described as “buying and selling patients for a pharmacy.”

The man, a former defensive back who spent three years in the NFL with the Chiefs and Jaguars, was accused of receiving and paying kickbacks to score lucrative patient referrals for a major South Florida pharmacy.

Despite his claims of innocence, a jury unanimously convicted him on multiple charges earlier this year, including the conspiracy that funneled more than $20 million from the TRICARE program.

Prosecutors described the conspiracy as a “pyramid scheme” and said there are other “unindicted co-conspirators.”

Healthcare fraud is a crime that is often charged along with conspiracy. Fraud is defined as an attempt to gain money or value by a false representation of fact. If you are facing federal conspiracy and/or fraud charges, or if you have reason to believe you are under investigation for such charges, you need to act fast and consult a Federal Healthcare Fraud Attorney at Whittel & Melton. A free consultation with us can help you learn more about the criminal defense process and the best course of action for your case.

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A personal injury lawyer from Hialeah was arrested Tuesday and charged with killing a woman at a Miami Lakes crosswalk last year with his Mercedes-Benz and driving away while impaired.

The 65-year-old-owner of a law firm in Miami Lakes was charged with DUI manslaughter/failure to render aid, vehicular homicide/failure to stop, leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the Dec. 7, 2017 death of the 26-year-old woman.

Investigators allege that the woman was using the Fairway Drive crosswalk around 2:30 a.m. when a car hit her, launching her into the air to land on a curb on the west side of Fairway Drive. Police believe that car was the man’s silver C-Class Benz and he was the driver.

He remained in Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center Wednesday morning, with bond set at $150,000.

A civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of the woman’s parents that says the woman was found face down near a gutter at the intersection of Miami Lakes Drive and Fairway Drive, and that the man was driving recklessly and should have yielded at the crosswalk. The suit, filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, asks for more than $15,000 to compensate the woman’s parents for their grief and to pay off medical and funeral costs.

It is important to point out that leaving the scene of an accident is not just a traffic ticket. It is a criminal offense. If the accident involves injuries to others, whether it be the other driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, this would be considered a felony hit-and-run in Florida. It is a felony in every state when someone leaves the scene of an accident that results in the death of a person.

Our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to point out that there are very few scenarios where you are free to leave the scene of an accident without suffering any consequences.If you were behind the wheel and caused a fatal accident and want to flee the scene, we urge you to think twice. If you do leave the scene, police will likely issue a warrant out for your arrest, and it is very likely that they will immediately proceed to locate you.

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Three Medicare fraud schemes in recent weeks have targeted a total $139.4 million, which led the Department of Justice to seek multiple convictions and a combined 33 years in prison sentences.

Each of the alleged schemes involved the use of provider kickbacks, a popular activity in healthcare, to entice healthcare professionals to inappropriately redirect clients and beneficiaries to specific healthcare businesses.

Law enforcement officials began their crackdown on Medicare fraud earlier in the year with a mix of provider convictions and settlements involving roughly $3 million dollars.

Combating healthcare fraud continues to be a top priority for law enforcement officials because of the dangers it presents to vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program, as well as the potential to recover billions in Medicare spending.

A Detroit provider was sentenced to six years in prison for $10.4 kickback scheme. The case apparently involved kickbacks for unnecessary electromyogram (EMG) tests and physical therapy tests.

He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, one count of wire fraud, two counts of receiving healthcare kickbacks, and had to personally forfeit $1.69 million.

A 70-year-old Boca Raton man was sentenced to five years in prison for $63 million in home health care fraud. Him and eleven other co-conspirators apparently submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through kickbacks that were medically unnecessary, were not eligible for Medicare reimbursement, or were never provided by his clinic.

The man was found guilty of hiding the payments by using his clinic to provide a salary through the kickbacks, and was paid a flat rate based on the number of individuals he referred. The man also admitted patients for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services even though he knew the patients didn’t qualify for PHP service.

He was convicted of one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive healthcare kickbacks. He personally had to forfeit $9.9 million and a personal money judgement over $400,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS, and OIG with supervision from the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

A 52-year-old Miami owner of multiple home health agencies was sentenced to 20 years in prison for $66 million in Medicare fraud that used his network of 20 home health agencies to host an elaborate kickback scheme.

The man and other co-conspirators were found guilty of recruiting individuals to represent his home health agencies in order to hide the man’s identity as they paid illegal bribes and kickbacks to patient recruiters to refer patients to these agencies.

The man also admitted that he submitted false and fraudulent home healthcare claims for Medicare beneficiaries that did not qualify for many services.

He had to forfeit $66.4 million in restitution and is convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud.

The case was investigated by the FBI and was brought forward by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

The Federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it a felony to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive remuneration, directly or indirectly, in order to induce business that is reimbursable under any federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. If accused of this crime, you could be facing both criminal and civil penalties.

Are you under investigation for Medicare fraud? You are not alone. About 1,400 individuals are indicted in federal court for health care fraud every year and more than 2,500 individuals are currently being investigated for Medicare fraud.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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