Articles Posted in Miami

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez  was killed early Sunday in a boating crash in Miami, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 24-year-old and two other people died when their 32-foot vessel slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said.

Two bodies were found under the vessel and a third was found on the jetty, according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Marine Services Bureau.

It does not appear that speed was a factor and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were a cause in the crash. None of the three victims wore a life jacket, and that the boat was owned by a friend of Fernandez’s.

Our South Florida Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help those who have suffered personal injuries or lost loved ones in boating accidents and collisions throughout the state of Florida. Many factors can contribute to a boating accident either on a privately owned vessel or on a personal watercraft, like a jet ski. Some of these factors include:

  • Driver Inexperience
  • Driver Error
  • Operating A Boat Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
  • Equipment Failure
  • Bad weather and/or water conditions

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A man convicted of conspiring to defraud more than 30,000 Americans out of about $31 million was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in prison.

The California man was also ordered to pay $11.9 million in forfeiture and restitution.

The man was convicted of running a mortgage scheme  from November 2011 through May 2014, causing more than 60 homeowners to lose their homes.

The man apparently oversaw about 65 telemarketers and managers in his role as general manager of sales at the company.

Prosecutors claim that the Irvine-based company persuaded homeowners in dire financial shape to modify the terms of their mortgages to make them more affordable.

Four other people convicted in the scheme are awaiting sentencing.

With the housing market where it is currently, prosecutors are going after anyone accused of mortgage fraud to the fullest extent of the law. Rest assured that they will stop at nothing to achieve a conviction for this white collar crime. Their ultimate goal is to make sure that anyone accused of mortgage fraud is proven guilty.

Loan and mortgage fraud can be complicated, and most of these cases are unique. Our South Florida Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can comb through every shred of evidence in your case to filter fiction from fact, so that we establish the most powerful defense on your behalf. We can aggressively attack the prosecution’s case and make sure your rights are protected.

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Two South Florida residents have been arrested after police claim they threatened to leak sexually explicit images of social media star “YesJulz” unless she paid them.

A 28-year-old and a 33-year-old were arrested Friday on extortion charges.

Miami Beach police believe the two contacted “YesJulz” and claimed to have X-rated photos of her.

They allegedly gave her 24 hours to pay them $18,000, threatening to publish the pictures online if she didn’t.

The two were arrested as they were waiting in a car on Miami Beach.

Police say one of the men arrested has admitted to the crime.The other denies any involvement.

The New York Times recently named “YesJulz” the “Queen of SnapChat,” where she has more than 300,000 viewers.

Extortion is defined as the use of non-physical force to persuade another person to do something for you. With the growth of the Internet and social media, this type of crime has taken on entirely new form, which has been labeled sextortion. Similar to extortion, sextortion is the use of sexual exploitation to make another person do something for you or give you something, like money.  

Sextortion is committed when someone uses guilt, power or damaging information about another person in an attempt to force that person to do something they do not want to do. This frequently occurs on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Three people have been convicted of alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud in a $1 billion scheme in Miami.

“This is the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General the department’s criminal division, in a statement issued Friday.

A 47-year-old man allegedly led a scheme that referred Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who did not qualify to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The man owned 30 such facilities, giving him access to thousands of beneficiaries, according to reports.

Also charged in the scheme are a 49-year-old hospital administrator and a 56-year-old physician’s assistant.

The three also are accused of accepting kickbacks, disguised as charitable donations or paid in cash, for directing the beneficiaries to selected health care providers, including pharmacies, health care agencies and mental health centers, according to investigators.

Medicare or Medicaid fraud happens when a provider knowingly makes a false or misleading statement or representation for use in obtaining reimbursement from the medical assistance program. Medicare and Medicaid providers include doctors, dentists, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, clinics, counselors, personal care/homemaker companies, and any other individual or company that is paid by the the programs.

Medicaid fraud includes, but is not limited to:

  • Billing for medical services that were never performed, known as phantom billing
  • Billing for a more expensive service than was actually performed, known as upcoding
  • Billing for multiple services that should be combined into one billing, known as unbundling
  • Billing several time for the same medical service
  • Dispensing generic drugs and billing for brand-name drugs
  • Giving or accepting something in return for medical services, which is known as a kickback
  • Providing unnecessary services
  • Filing false cost reports

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A South Florida doctor will spend more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to falsely diagnosing hundreds of patients in a Medicare fraud scheme.

Court records show the 57-year-old Delray Beach doctor was also ordered Wednesday by a federal judge to pay more than $2.1 million in restitution to the government. The man previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud.

Authorities claim the man falsely diagnosed 387 patients enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program with a rare spinal condition. The patients were enrolled in a Humana Inc. health plan that was reimbursed for each diagnosis by Medicare.

The federal program paid out $2.1 million in excess benefits, 80 percent of which went to the doctor. Almost none of the patients actually had the rare spinal condition, according to reports.

Medicare and Medicaid fraud is taken quite seriously on local, state and federal levels. It is important to note that these cases are heavily investigated before charges are brought forth. With that said, you will most likely know about the possibility of being charged long before an indictment is filed against you.

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Tax evasion isn’t the only thing on former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina’s plate these days, it appears he’s also been busted for having a mistress. News reports claim that Luis Felipe Perez, now in prison for running a $45 million jewelry-investment scam, paid Robaina more than $300,000 in cash for proceeds from high-interest $850,000 loan between friends.

Robiana's mistress is unknown. This Mary Bolen, perhaps the most famous mistress of Henry VIII's era.

Robiana’s mistress is unknown.  Mary Boleyn        is perhaps the most famous mistress of           Henry VIII’s era.

Why the cash payments for the high interest loan? The Feds say Robaina was spending the money on his mistress and needed to keep it secret from his wife. The mistresses’ identity has not been revealed.

Described by some as “draconian,” the Miami-Dade sex offender statute is forcing offenders into a life of homelessness and squalor.

Essentially, because of the strict requirements of the Miami-Dade sex offender statute, offenders are rendered homeless, migrating from one temporary housing site to another. Just when it seems like they have found a permanent housing solution,  a new school opens or a business is newly designated as a child care facility nearby, and offenders have to move or be evicted.

Sex Offenders are being forced to live in Tent Cities because of strict offender laws

Sex Offenders are being forced to live in Tent Cities because of strict offender laws

It’s official. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Florida has the nation’s highest rate of identity theft— with Miami leading the entire country when it comes to identity theft, tax fraud as well as Medicare and mortgage Fraud.

These statistics are based on data collected in 2012.

Miami tops US in incidents of identity theft

Miami tops US in incidents of identity theft

A Miami woman plead guilty this week for her part in an $8 million South Florida medicare fraud scheme centering around a now-defunct home health care company.

According to court documents, the woman’s co-defendants were patient recruiters for the owners and operators of Flores Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. The defendant herself also owned and operated a Miami medical clinic that provided fraudulent prescriptions to these patient recruiters as well as to the owners and operators of Flores Home Health.

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Investigations by the Medicaid Fraud Strike Force revealed that the defendants would first recruit patients for Flores Home Health and then would solicit and receive kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Flores Home in return for allowing the agency to bill the Medicare program on behalf of the recruited Medicare patients. These Medicare beneficiaries were billed for home health care, like expensive physical therapies, that were not medically necessary or never provided at all.

The defendant plead guilty in U.S. District Court of and for the Southern District of Florida, and is expected to be sentenced in mid-March. Conspiracy to commit health care fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

State and Federal Agents target all players in these types of schemes, many times alleging coding irregularities, kickbacks to patients and staff, medicaid billing for services not provided, and over charging for medical services.

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This week, the Third District Court of Appeal– the appellate court for the trial courts of Miami-Dade County– overturned a trial court’s denial of a “Stand Your Ground” motion. Ultimately this opinion could set the Florida law up for review before the Florida Supreme Court.

News reports say that the 2-1 decision held that the trial court erred in denying immunity from murder prosecution to Gabriel Mobley, who was charged in the 2008 deaths of Jason Gonzalez and Rolando Carranza in Opa-locka. This marks the first time the local appeals court has granted immunity to a defendant under the Stand Your Ground law.

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Mobley had long maintained he acted in self-defense in the fatal shooting of the two unarmed men–one of whom he insisted appeared to be reaching for a weapon under his shirt during scuffle outside a North Miami-Dade restaurant.

Later, the two men were found to be unarmed, though two knives were found near one of their bodies.

The Miami-Dade appellate court agreed, finding that under Florida’s controversial stand your ground self-defense law, Mobley acted reasonably because the slain men, though apparently unarmed, were the aggressors. The majority found that:

“the shooting at issue did not occur in a vacuum… Mobley did not shoot two innocent bystanders who just happened upon him on a sidewalk.”

Stand your ground is a self-defense law that gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves, without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. Under this law, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the stand your ground law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit.

Procedurally, Mobley’s lawyers raised the issue pretrial, arguing that the “stand your ground” law protected their client, and for this reason, the trial court should grant Mobley immunity from prosecution. Despite media confusion of this issue during the George Zimmerman trial, the stand your ground law is NOT an issue for a jury. The difference between immunity and a defense is that an immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. A defense, including an affirmative defense, is a fact or set of facts that may avoid or mitigate the adverse legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct.

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