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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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white collar crimeThe biggest misconception about white collar crimes is that they are committed only among the wealthy. Anyone, from any socioeconomic background, within any demographic, can be susceptible to being involved in white collar crimes. These crimes are financially motivated, but may also involve taking clients from other businesses unlawfully, shifting accounts, reallocating resources, committing fraud, or unlawfully receiving government aid.

White Collar Criminals Can Be Anyone

Though the media focuses its attention on politicians, business moguls, celebrities, judges, and other individuals in “high powered” positions, it is not just the wealthy committing white collar crimes. For example, critics slammed the Social Security Administration for failing to adequately screen people before providing or continuing financial benefits. If someone is collecting government funds and their condition changes (i.e. they no longer are disabled, they return to work, or their medical condition improved), those people are under an obligation to notify the authorities of their changed status. Unfortunately, at the expense of taxpayers and honest recipients who dutifully report changes, thousands of people are collecting benefits that are no longer, or were never, eligible.

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periodic imprisonmentUnder Illinois law, a sentence of periodic imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment during which the committed person may be released for periods of time during the day or night or for periods of days, or both. The purpose of the program is to allow people convicted of certain crimes, usually non-violent offenders, to remain gainfully employed while still serving time for criminal wrongdoing. For example, periodic imprisonment may be attractive for some individuals charged with white collar crimes, like embezzlement or forgery.

When an individual is convicted of some felonies, periodic imprisonment also refers to committing the individual to a state or local facility for such periods of time as the criminal law judge may direct. Alternatively, unless the court orders otherwise, Department of Corrections officers shall direct the time and conditions of the committed individual’s release.

Periodic Imprisonment May Allow for Work

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credit card fraud, Illinois crime, criminal defense, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, white collar crimeA major crime that is becoming more and more common is that of credit card fraud. Earlier this year, two individuals were arrested in the Chicago area by the United States Secret Service’s Chicago Electronic Crimes Task Force on charges of credit card fraud. The two men in this case did not do any fancy computer hacking, but were able to obtain credit card information, which they then used to purchase electronics. Once the purchases were made, they had the electronics shipped to empty homes, where they could easily go and pick up the packages.   This is an example of credit card fraud. During the 2013 holiday season, major identity and credit card thefts made headlines when it was discovered that millions and millions of customers at Target stores nationwide may have had their credit card information stolen through technological trickery. Such network intrusions occurred at Target, as well as other consumer locations, such as grocery stores and major retailers.  Those credit card numbers are sold to buyers, often times in other countries.  The reselling of those credit card numbers is another example of credit card fraud. Illinois Credit Card Law Under Illinois law, credit card fraud and identity theft are taken very seriously. It is a criminal offense in the state to knowingly make a false statement in order to procure a credit card. It is also an offense to possess a lost credit card with the knowledge that it is in fact lost, and with the intent to use or sell it; to possess another’s credit card without their consent and with the intent to use or sell it; as well as to knowingly sell or purchase a credit card without the issuer’s consent. Criminal credit card fraud also occurs through the knowing use of forged, counterfeited, expired, or revoked cards to make a purchase, or making a purchase by falsely representing one’s identity as the actual legitimate cardholder. Possible sentences for the crime of credit card fraud and identity theft will be handed out based upon the number of credit cards that were stolen, the amount of value of the property stolen by credit card, and the number of transactions that were made.  It also matters whether the case is being brought under federal laws or under Illinois statutes.  In Illinois, a Class A Misdemeanor for credit card fraud is punishable up to 364 days in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine. Potential Defenses Lack of intent to defraud the owner of the credit on the part of the accused is a possible defense. Perhaps, you were given permission to use the credit card and now the owner of the card claims that you were not authorized to use it.  It may also be a defense if you stole and used credit card information under duress by another person who forced you to use the card. You may be able to argue that you abandoned the transaction before completing it so it is not a crime, or that you were induced by law enforcement to commit the fraud, thus raising a possible defense of entrapment. There are many additional possible defenses that one may use to combat credit card fraud charges. Each case is very different and the defense created for each case must be designed based upon the facts and circumstances of the particular case.  All angles must be reviewed and all avenues pursued.

The aforementioned types of credit card fraud and possible defenses serve merely as a general overview. There are in fact many more unique acts that constitute credit card fraud, which is a very serious crime. If you have been charged with such fraud, you need a vigorous defense. Contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for a free consultation. Serving defendants in the following courthouses:  Cook County, Chicago, Daley Center, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Bridgeview, Maywood, DuPage County, Wheaton, Will County, Joliet, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Kane County, St. Charles, Geneva, and others in the Chicagoland area.

Talking on the phone is such a natural process – some of our best conversations happen there. However, there are people out there who use the phone to scheme ways to get your hard earned money through telemarketing fraud – when you send money to people you do not know, give personal information or financial information to unknown callers.

Illinois Criminal Lawyer

There are many warning signs that, when you hear them, you know to say no and hang up the phone. From offers that need immediate attention to be valid, to winning a free gift, vacation or some other prize to which you need to pay only postage and handling. When they ask for payment right away, giving your credit card number, bank account number or waiting for someone to come over and pick your money up are all dangerous options. Recognize the immediate need for money as a sign! By agreeing to have someone come and pick up your money you will have no way to trace the company. Always make sure you get the salesperson’s name, business identity, phone number, street/mailing address and business license to make sure it is a legitimate business.

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According to a recent Chicago Tribune  article, two suburban Chicago men, Robert C. Pribilski and John T. Burns III, both affiliated with USA Retirement Management Services, were indicted on federal charges related to a Ponzi-like scheme in which they bilked $28 million from about 120 investors. Authorities claim that along with a third man, Mahmut Erhan Durmaz, the duo operated the fraudulent scheme from 2005 to 2010. USA Retirement Management Services has operated offices in Oakbrook Terrace and southern California. Durmaz has allegedly fled the country, thus avoiding the charges that the other two men are facing, at least for now.

The accused men reportedly convinced wealthy investors by advertising estate-planning seminars at local hotels and banquet halls in Illinois and California to invest in Turkish bonds that would allegedly bring investors high rates of return, ranging from 4.75 to 11 percent. Although the men promised investors a guaranteed return, they instead used the investment funds to pay other investors, speculate in real estate and restaurants that failed, and make millions of dollars in payments to themselves, friends, and families.

The lawyer for Burns alleges that he should not have been indicated, as he was simply an employee hired by Pribilski and Durmaz to give presentations and follow up with prospective investors. According to Burns, he had no control over the business’s books and was unaware of any illegitimate business operations.

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A Naperville minister who has been free on a $250,000 bond since May 2010 may have to raise another $750,000 in order to stay out of jail. Howard Richmond, 51, was accused two years ago of swindling parishioners of the church he founded, Life Reach Ministries Worldwide, out of $475,000.

The church operated out of an Aurora storefront. Police say Richmond convinced three members he was borrowing the money from them in order to purchase land for the church. He allegedly paid a bank employee to produce fake financial documents, showing that Richmond himself had millions of dollars. Richmond was charged with a total of eleven counts of theft by deception, deception, financial institution fraud and continuing a financial crimes enterprise. One of his alleged victims, a doctor from Skokie, gave Richmond $400,000.

Richmond has now been accused of a new crime. He has been charged with deceptive practice/bad checks and conspiracy to commit a financial crime of more than $100,000 Prosecutors want his bail to either be revoked or increased to a million dollars.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

The controversy US attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald has stepped down as of Wednesday, June 27, 2012. He is most known for going after popular officials, governor Rod Blagojevich and Lewis “Scooter” Libby in corruption investigations. His resignation came as a surprise to Attorney General, Eric Holder. Holder received the phone call from Fitzgerald announcing his resignation only hours before informing it publicly he would be stepping down. Reasons stating he would be stepping down for personal reasons, unbeknownst to the public for now.

The position will not be left in foreign hands. Set to take his place is second in command as first assistant US attorney, Gary Shapiro. He is well experienced in the office serving for 14 years before taking this new acting position in Fitzgerald’s place. Gaining praising remarks from Fitzgerald, Shapiro has worked diligently fighting mobsters and corrupt political features. Before serving as the first assistant, he worked from 1984 to 1990 as the chief of office’s criminal division.

US Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk have a hefty job waiting for them to pick a permanent replacement. Hoping to compromise on a great applicant, both senators will pick 3 panel members. The panel will then review applicants and come to an agreement on the best fit for the position. This helps to ensure a bipartisan pick for the role. With the upcoming 2012 Presidential election, the replacement will take some time as the focus will be shifted for quite some time until the office is stabilized.

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For the last several years, 55 year old Michael Gardner has presented himself as an attorney. The truth of the matter is that he is definitely not an attorney. He does not have a law degree and never attended law school. A couple in Naperville fell victim to his scams. No one suspected a thing until one ofGardner’s supposed clients had a warrant issued for her arrest due to him not showing up for a scheduled court appearance.

Gardner helped at least three clients, even billing one for a trip to Massachusetts to file court papers there for a class action lawsuit. He truly did play the part well. He was only figured out when he dropped the ball and failed to attend a court date to represent a client.

Naperville couple Pamela and Isaias Valois, were scammed out of $10,000 by this fake attorney. They retained him for his services at a price of $500 per month. This came after a recommendation from an acquaintance of theirs recommended Gardner’s services. He did resolve one business matter for them out of court, thus leading them to offer the monthly retainer. The Valois’ own a small business, River Hill Food Mart, in Naperville, and often provided Gardner with groceries or fresh meals.

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State Rep. Derrick Smith, 48, appeared in a federal courtroom Monday and plead not guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for using his influence to obtain a state grant for a day care center. Smith had been arrested in March on the federal bribery charges and indicted on April 10th.

Prosecutors allege that Smith accepted a $7,000 cash bribe from a campaign worker, who was actually an undercover FBI informant. According to the criminal complaint, the congressman thought he was taking the money to provide an official letter in support of a $50,000 grant request from a day care center, which turned out to be non-existent and was part of the sting operation. If convicted, Smith faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is due in court May 16th.

Some lawmakers, including Gov. Pat Quinn, have called for Smith to resign from office. But the congressman, who just days after his arrest won the Democratic nomination in the Illinois primary, vows he will stay in office and fight the charges.

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According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, federal authorities have accused Rita Crundwell, the comptroller and treasurer of the small northwestern town of Dixon, Illinois, of bilking the town of more than $30 million over the last thirty years. According to documents filed by federal prosecutors in Rockford, Crundwell allegedly used the stolen money to fund her extravagant lifestyle, which included two champion horse breeding farms, $340,000 in jewelry, and a $2.1 million motor home. Local residents and city officials, shocked by the immensity of this theft, are questioning how these huge financial losses could have gone unnoticed for so long, particularly in light of the town’s struggling finances in recent years that left roads unimproved and the city pool closed.

Local authorities blame Crundwell’s ability to steal large amounts of money undetected in part on the town’s admittedly outdated controls over their finances, leaving Crundwell with an unusual amount of authority and control over the town’s funds. Nonetheless, an annual audit by two independent accounting firms and normal oversight by the town’s main bank, Fifth Third Bank, uncovered no suspicion of any wrongdoing in recent years.

As Crundwell is facing federal criminal charges, including one count of wire fraud, the penalties for a conviction can be quite severe. In addition to potential jail time, Crundwell is also likely to face the forfeiture of many of her assets, which will be liquidated and return to the town of Dixon.

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