January 29, 2010

Authorities Bust Largest Medi-Cal Fraud Ring in California History

In 2009, a multi-agency unit, including the FBI and the California Attorney General, arrested 42 people suspected of Medi-Cal fraud. These defendants were accused of defrauding Medi-Cal out of $4.6 million, making it the largest single case of Medi-Cal fraud in California’s history.

The defendants allegedly billed Medi-Cal for in-home nursing services that were provided by unlicensed individuals. Some of these individuals had no medical training whatsoever, but performed nursing services that included administering medications, adjusting ventilators, and feeding through gastronomy tubes.

Medi-Cal fraud includes billing for unnecessary services, for drugs or other supplies that were never ordered, and for paying unauthorized individuals to perform medical services. The penalties can be severe, which is why it is important that anyone accused of this type of health insurance fraud consult with a criminal defense lawyer who has expertise in this complex area of the law.

January 22, 2010

The Unfortunate Plight of Nursing Home Employees

As with anything in this world, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. But in general, California nursing homes are staffed by caring, nurturing individuals who truly want to help others.

The problem is lies in the awful reputation that plagues nursing homes. While it’s true that elder abuse in California nursing homes is common, it’s certainly not the norm. But anytime an elder who lives in one of these long-term care facilities is unhappy, injured, or ill, the staff is automatically suspected of abuse.

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January 21, 2010

If It's Too Good To Be True, It Usually Is...

I was at my grandfather’s house earlier this week. As he was opening his mail, he became very excited. He received a letter informing him that he had won $2,500,000.00 and just needed to send a $20 “handling” fee to secure his prize. As he reached for his checkbook, I had to break the news to him…this was simply a scam.

My grandfather is a well respected and well educated doctor…and had I not been there, would have been a victim of financial elder abuse, otherwise known as “senior fraud”.

California financial elder abuse or “senior fraud” is punished under Penal Code 368 PC. It can include anything from stealing money from an elder’s wallet (a California elder is someone who is 65 or older), to scamming an elder out of money (like the letter sent to my grandfather), to sophisticated offenses like transferring an elder’s entire estate into your own name.

Not always easily detectible…nor always easily provable…California financial elder abuse is on the rise and…as a result…law enforcement officers are on the lookout.

January 18, 2010

Elder Abuse on the Rise

Elder abuse has become a growing concern in California. Broadly defined in California’s Welfare and Institution Code and in Penal Code 368 PC, “elder abuse” is any abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, financial…and whether it’s inflicted by a family member, a private caregiver, or an institution such as a nursing home or other residential treatment center…directed at an individual who is 65 or older.

As recently as last year, nationwide studies suggest that three to five million seniors have experienced abuse but that only one in five cases are reported. It’s these kinds of statistics that have prompted many California local law enforcement agencies to target elder abusers and to prosecute elder abuse cases swiftly and aggressively.

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January 14, 2010

The California Plea Bargain Catchall – “Disturbing the Peace”

While California Penal Code 415 “disturbing the peace” is a crime unto itself, it is much more frequently used as a California plea bargaining tool.

There are a variety of crimes, such as prostitution, lewd conduct in public, and indecent exposure that carry severe social stigmas and, sometimes worse…a lifetime duty to register as a California sex offender.

Skilled California criminal defense attorneys know how to expose the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case early on to convince prosecutors to reduce these more serious offenses to Penal Code 415 “disturbing the peace”.

“Disturbing the peace” is a “wobbler”, which means that prosecutors have the discretion to charge the offense as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. Either way, employers, family members, and anyone else who learns that you were convicted of “disturbing the peace” is much less likely to subject you to the harsh treatment that a California sex crime would surely invite.

The other good news is that penalties for Penal Code 415 “disturbing the peace” charges are limited to a maximum county jail sentence of 90 days and a maximum fine of $400. “Typical” misdemeanor offenses are punishable by up to six months in the county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

In reality, if your attorney negotiates a “disturbing the peace” charge reduction, you will likely pay a small fine and serve no jail time.

January 13, 2010

Dancer/Choreographer "Shane" Sparks Arrested for Child Molestation

What’s interesting about this case is the fact that these child molestation charges arise out of a series of incidents that took place between 1994 and 1997…which means that the statute of limitations (the time by which criminal charges must be filed) has already expired.

Prosecutors charged Melvin “Shane” Sparks, a judge on “America’s Best Dance Crew” and a choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance”, with eight felony counts of lewd acts with a child under California Penal Code 288 late last month.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is relying on a California Penal Code 801(f) that provides that the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses committed against minors may be extended if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) the statute of limitations has otherwise expired, (2) the crime(s) involved substantial sexual conduct, and (3) there is clear and convincing evidence that corroborates the victim’s allegations. According to the Los Angeles D.A.’s Office, each of these conditions has been fulfilled.

If Sparks is convicted of lewd acts with a child under California Penal Code 288 (otherwise known as “child molestation”), he not only faces imprisonment and substantial fines, but will be required to provide a DNA sample and register as a sex offender for life.

January 8, 2010

Man Convicted for Indecent Exposure...In His Own Home

Yep, that’s right. Eric Williamson was convicted of violating Virginia’s indecent exposure law. This case received national attention because of the fact that Williamson was in his own home at the time of the offense.

Police arrested Williamson after a mother and her 7-year-old son claimed that as they walked by Williamson’s home, he made a point of making his “naked self” visible to them.

Under California’s “indecent exposure” law, Penal Code 314 PC, unless Williamson purposely “flashed” himself to the mother and son and drew attention to his genitals, he could not have been convicted of indecent exposure. This is because California’s “indecent exposure” law under Penal Code 314 PC requires

  1. that you intentionally expose yourself or your “private parts”,

  2. in a public area or area where people were present and likely to be offended, and

  3. you acted in a lewd manner while drawing attention to your genitals.

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January 4, 2010

Introducing the First Legal Male Prostitutes

In Nevada, that is. Nevada is currently the only state where prostitution is legal…as long as it is confined to brothels located in specific counties within the state. Until recently, these brothels only hired women in accordance with the state’s health and safety laws that required licensed prostitutes to undergo frequent cervical testing to ensure they remain STD free.

Within a couple of weeks, one of the state’s legal brothels is hoping to hire a few men to service their clients. This is thanks to a new regulation that provides for urethral testing for men to ensure the same health standards for both sexes.

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