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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700

medical fraud, fraud, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneySeveral federal agencies, working together, announced a major nationwide health care fraud sweep which resulted in the arrests of almost 250 people. Among those arrested were physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, who were all accused of defrauding both Medicare and Medicaid systems. According to investigators, the effort uncovered more than $700 million in allegedly fraudulent billing.

Many of those charged allegedly billed the government for services that were never received and medical equipment which was never provided to patients. Prescription drug fraud was also targeted by investigators, with more than 40 of the defendants who were arrested accused of defrauding Medicare’s drug benefit program. Investigators say this program has become one of the fastest growing targets of fraudulent activity, with many of the prescription painkillers dispensed ending up being sold illegally on the streets to drug addicts.

Federal and state agencies were involved in the massive arrests, including the FBI, the U.S. Health and Human Services inspector general's office, U.S. attorneys& offices across the country, and dozens of state Medicaid fraud units. The arrests spanned the nation and involved many states. Examples of the fraud allegedly committed include:

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underage, underage drinking, Illinois Juvenile Crimes Defense AttorneyIn Illinois, it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21-years-old to consume, be in possession of, or deliver alcohol. Depending on the nature of the violation – as well as the charging agency – anyone found guilty violating the law faces punishment of receiving an ordinance violation, punishable by a fine, all the way to a Class 4 felony, which can be punishable by one to three years in prison. Under the state's’ Zero Tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who is found guilty of consuming or possessing alcohol receives an automatic suspension of their driver’s license for three to six months – even if they were not drinking and driving.

If a young person is charged with underage drinking, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding defenses to the charge. For example, under the law, if the young person is drinking under the supervision and approval of at least one of their parents, then they cannot be charged with violating the law.

There have been several cases, however, where the court found that exception did not apply. In one case, People v. Finkenbinder, a 19-year-old who lived at home with his parents had his mother’s permission to consume alcohol at a family party his parents were hosting at their home. The mother and son were not in the same rooms of the house during the entire party, but the mother said she witnessed her son drink two to three beers. At approximately 3 a.m., the young man was arrested by a police officer who found him walking the streets. He admitted to the officer he had been drinking. The officer performed two breath tests; one test read .09 and the second .097. The young man then admitted to having shots of alcohol, in addition to three beers. The court ultimately ruled that the underage drinking law exception did not apply to this case since the mother was not only unaware her son had consumed the shots of alcohol, but was also unaware that he had left the house.

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speeding, work zone, Illinois criminal defense attorneyAlong with the warm weather comes road construction. Whether it is a road requiring repair from the ravages of winter weather, or the expansion of an existing roadway, Illinois drivers can count on seeing the orange cones all over the state during the spring, summer, and fall months. They can also count on severe penalties for ignoring the state’s rules for driving in road construction zones.

Under Illinois law, a road construction zone requiring decreasing the posted speed limit is one in which either the Department of Transportation, Toll Highway Authority, or other local agency has posted signs which alert drivers that they are approaching a maintenance or construction speed zone. Such a zone also includes areas in which one of the aforementioned agencies has posted signs stating that the established posted speed limit is not safe or reasonable due to current or expected conditions in the area.

However, in order to be in compliance with the law, the signage which posting agencies use must fall within the guideline of the statute. The sign must be of an approved design and must clearly state that the driver is approaching a road construction area. The signage must also indicate what the maximum speed limit allowed in the road construction area is, as well as what the minimum fine could be for failing to comply.

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sex crime, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorneyThere has been much controversy regarding a sexual assault case brought against a former Northern Illinois University (NIU) campus police officer and how the campus police force handled the investigation. The allegations of impropriety led to a raid by the FBI of the NIU police headquarters, as well as the firing of the department’s police chief.  The case has also led to the filing of an Illinois bill which would turn over any investigations of sex crimes on a college campus to the local police department.

In the NIU case, the former campus police officer has been accused of sexually assaulting a college freshman, with whom he had a relationship, in 2011. The alleged victim has testified that she turned over an exchange of text messages she had with the defendant to the campus police. Those text messages have disappeared, along with two hours of recorded testimony made by the former NIU officer while he was being questioned by investigating campus police officers. The defendant’s attorney claims that all of this missing evidence would exonerate his client, and has accused the NIU police department of intentionally destroying the evidence.

In response to this case, as well as several other cases around the country where there has been questionable handling of sexual assault investigations by other campus police departments, one Illinois lawmaker has introduced House Bill 3520, the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. Under the proposed legislation, any sex crime investigation, which takes place at a college or university – whether a public or private institution – would automatically be under the jurisdiction of either the municipal police department or county sheriff. Supporters of the bill say that one of the biggest problems with the current system is that college campus police lack the training to properly investigate these types of cases.

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New law, Illinois Law, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyIllinois lawmakers have been busy this legislation session, with the passage of many bills affecting the state’s criminal statutes. Almost a half dozen of these bills now await the governor’s signature, which will make them official laws. Several of those bills specifically address drug and drunk driving offenses.

Marijuana Charges

House Bill 218 amends the Illinois Cannabis Control Act, essentially making the possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana a petty offense, similar to a speeding ticket. The fine for possession can be up to $125 and expungment of the offense off a person’s record after six months. The Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that this new law will save the state approximately $30 million. The new law also establishes a threshold level for anyone who is arrested driving under the influence of marijuana.

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