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Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Law Blog

White collar crimes: Doctor pleads not guilty in federal court

Amid the growing national opioid epidemic, the U.S. Department of Labor became suspicious when it was determined that the Federal Employees' Compensation Act's spending on compound medicines skyrocketed from $2 million in 2011 to $263 million in 2016. A federal investigation was launched, and Michigan readers might be interested to know that a general surgeon in another state is one of several doctors under federal indictment for white collar crimes. The labor department alleges this doctor is part of an alleged scam that arranged false prescriptions for U.S. armed service members for compound medications they did not need -- to the value of $39.7 million.

The 58-year-old doctor pleaded not guilty in this federal case that alleges he received financial kickbacks for writing the fraudulent prescriptions. Federal prosecutors say a couple with a company that professes to assist injured federal workers with their claims for workers' compensation benefits orchestrated the scam. The unnecessary medication prescriptions were written for these workers in exchange for monetary kickbacks.

Defenses re charges for computer and internet crimes

Felony convictions bring penalties, and some are more severe than others are. Using a device such as a computer or a smartphone to commit crimes can lead to enhanced penalties. For that reason, anyone in Michigan who is being investigated for computer and internet crimes is best advised to seek legal counsel immediately.

Offenses that used to be committed in person and are now done online. Cyber crimes include theft in various forms along with sexting and other crimes like child pornography and solicitation. However, the anonymity offered by computer networking technology brought about online scams that often target the global market for committing credit card, investment and auction fraud. Phishing is another type of fraud that involves sending emails to recipients to gather financial and personal information, with the sender pretending to be a legitimate business.

Bulk mail scheme operators face white collar crimes charges

Anyone in Michigan who learns that he or she is being investigated for fraud will want to secure criminal defense counsel -- even before an arrest. Hefty fines, restitution orders and even incarceration can follow a conviction, and acting early may prevent or limit any consequences. Three men in another state who are accused of white collar crimes are facing federal charges for alleged postal fraud conducted over a period of approximately five years.

Federal prosecutors allege the three men, ages 51, 57 and 58, operated a business that did or pretended to do bulk mailings for other firms. It is alleged that the men fraudulently obtained at least $16 million in the scheme that involved the free delivery of over 80 million items of mail by faking the paperwork, forging postal employees' signatures and using a postal stamp without authorization. The money paid by the companies who used their bulk mailing service was allegedly split between the three accused men for their private use.

Assault and battery charges in Michigan

Heated altercations in public places frequently lead to assault allegations. An allegation of simple assault in Michigan can lead to your being charged with a crime, making it important that you take such an allegations seriously. You need to understand Michigan law regarding the matter.

One key point to observe is that assault and battery are treated as distinct and separate crimes. Assault is any threat of or attempt to injure someone, while battery refers to the action itself. Therefore, it is possible to be charged with assault while never having made physical contact with the person.

Computer and internet crimes: Is cyberbullying a crime?

In Michigan, there are penalties for every crime. However, when it comes to computer and internet crimes, there seem to be some gray areas. Cyberbullying, is typically defined as harassing or intimidating behavior on the internet, including posting threatening messages in a public forum. It is something that gives rise to concern. News headlines have reported several cases of children who committed suicide after they were the victims of such bullying.

While several other states have laws against it, Michigan is awaiting the response of the Senate on a bill that was approved by the state House of Representatives in March. The bill would make cyberbullying a crime. Misdemeanors would be punishable by a $500 fine and 93 days behind bars. If the cyberbullying caused severe harm, it could rise to a felony, subject to a fine of $5,000 and a prison sentence of five years. This would increase to 10 years and $10,000 if the cyberbullying resulted in death.

Michigan doctors charged with white collar crimes

The Department of Justice says it has charged over 150 doctors for opioid-related criminal activities since 2017. One of the most recent cases involving accusations of white collar crimes saw the DOJ handing down a federal indictment for an alleged $200 million fraud scheme that involved four Michigan doctors. Prosecutors say the scheme financed a luxurious lifestyle that included a mansion worth $7 million, exotic cars and designer watches.

The central figure is said to be a 38-year-old owner of several Michigan pain clinics who allegedly oversaw and managed activities that illicitly prescribed opioid medications valued at more than $4 million and then billed Medicare for reimbursement. Prosecutors allege three other Michigan doctors were involved in the fraud scheme. Further allegations state that some of the fraudulently prescribed drugs were offered for sale on the street.

When doctors are accused of upcoding or unbundling

Doctors can have a lot of paperwork to deal with in connection to the care of their patients. This includes billing paperwork, such as billing related to Medicaid. Being accused of acting fraudulently in connection to such billing can create serious problems for a doctor. There are many different kinds of Medicaid fraud doctors could be accused of. Today we will go over two such types: upcoding and unbundling. Both involve billing codes.

Will prosecutors always turn over exculpatory evidence?

Prosecutors and criminal investigators may push a suspect for answers by saying “help me help you.” While this may sound enticing and reassuring, the famous line from “Jerry Maguire” may be anything but helpful. After all, prosecutors seek evidence to help gain a conviction.

However, prosecutors are also bound to produce exculpatory evidence, either during discovery or before discovery responses are due to the defense. Exculpatory evidence is information or documents that can satisfy a defense or disprove an element of a crime. The principle requiring prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence is based on the U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland.

Drug distribution laws in Michigan

Types of drug distribution can very rapidly. A person could be distributing a particular drug around a few of his or her closest friends, or the individual could have a sophisticated distribution network across cities or even states.

The laws on drug trafficking are very strict in the sense that people do not need to be caught "red handed" in the act of selling or distributing drugs. They do not even need to show intent in order to be charged. Instead, they only need to be found with a certain amount of a drug which will be interpreted by law enforcement as a distribution effort.

Do longer sentences actually deter crime?

The political season won’t begin in earnest for a few months in Michigan, but one topic that is certain to garner a great deal of attention are sentencing guidelines. It is no secret that sentencing (and the varying opinions behind them) have been a divisive issue in Michigan politics for quite some time. Yet there are still proponents of tougher sentences.

Nevertheless, there are several problems with long sentences. First, the notion that a long sentence will give an offender a long time to think about what they did and how to avoid a similar situation is a bit far-fetched. A 2009 study showed that 67 percent of offenders imprisoned for three years or more likely to likely to be re-arrested for a different offense and 25 percent of returning offenders were convicted and sent to prison.

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