Last week, Miami, Florida pulled in their dragnet to catch 94 suspects charged with Medicare fraud. This stepped up criminal enforcement also stopped other fraud in other cities plotting to fleece $251 million from Medicare.
The authorities used an orchestrated crackdown in five major U.S. cities that coincided with the nation’s first health care fraud summit in Miami. Miami is considered the nation’s capital of Medicare corruption. Other arrests include 36 suspects in Miami, Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, Houston and Detroit.
In Miami-Dade, 24 suspects were charged with submitting about $103 million in fraudulent bills for home health care, HIV therapy and medical equipment services. All but three were arrested. In Detroit, a doctor was accused of setting up clinics to treat HIV patients who either didn’t receive the therapy or didn’t need it.
In Brooklyn, NY undercover agents and wiretaps were used. Agents wire tapped a medical center, where eight people were charged with running a $72 million scheme. They were submitting bogus claims for physical therapy and occupational therapy for elderly Russian immigrants. In addition, the clinic owners paid patients for using their Medicare numbers. Hanging on the wall in Russian were signs showing a woman with a finger to her lips and two messages in Russian: “Don’t Gossip” and “Be on the lookout: In these days, the walls talk.”
The magnitude Medicare fraud in Florida is amazing. Florida mental health clinics submitted $421 million in bills to Medicare last year — about four times more than Texas and 635 times higher than Michigan. According to government records Florida is infested with health-care rackets that lead to fraud.
Starting July 1, 2010, the State of Colorado’s DUI law just got tougher. Repeat drunk drivers will have to spend time in jail under a new law, House Bill 1347. This Bill requires second-time offenders to face a minimum of 10 days in jail and third-time offenders a minimum of two months in jail. The maximum penalty for each crime remains one year in jail.
This legislation was due to the fact that many different judges throughout the state were interpreting the law differently. Some gave more time in jail, some less or just community service. Now the new Bill has set guidelines for judges to follow. If you are a repeat offender, you are going to jail for at least 10 days. Third time offender, you’ll be doing two months time in jail.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, approximately 200 people died in drunken driving related crashes in Colorado last year. This averages out to one person every 43 hours. In addition, to jail time, fines average $10,000 for someone convicted of DUI.
Last year’s Fourth of July weekend saw 572 DUI arrests. With this new law, will there be enough jail cells to hold all the drunken drivers for at least 10 days in jail?
Police in Madison, WI have been giving out report cards to drivers. The police are on the lookout for people who leave items in their cars. Any type of item may potentially be an invitation for thieves to break into a car and steal the item.
The item may be spare changes left in vehicles, GPS devices, iPads, or purses. The report card rates drivers on their vulnerability to theft. Of course, cars with unlocked doors or unattended valuables fail.
Even though auto theft has decreased, vehicle break-ins are on the increase. According to Crime in the United States, a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice this past September, shows car thefts were down 13.5% in 2008 from 2007, while thefts of items from vehicles increased 6.2% during the same period.
The best advice police are giving is “Hide it, lock it or lose it.” Break-ins are also costly to repair. Use common sense and don’t leave valuable items in your car. Be safe and hide or take all of your personal items out of your car.
With the summer months ahead, car thieves are gearing up to steal your car . Did you know that a car is stolen every 33 seconds throughout the U.S.? During the summer, more people are traveling or even leaving their garage doors open all day. This is the perfect opportunity for thieves to steal your car.
The most experienced thieves can get into a car in just seven seconds and most only need a screwdriver to break into a car. During the summer months is when car thieves target cars mostly for their parts. For example, catalytic converters and other material with precious metals on cars are stripped and sold for cash on the black market. A single headlight fixture goes for $150 on the black market and a complete bumper in like new condition off a Toyota or Avalon can go for $500 to $550.
This means it costs you hundreds of millions of dollars in annual insurance premiums. In addition, a car is usually worth one and a half to two times what it’s worth in pieces. As a result, your stolen car is more valuable for a thief to come and steal the parts and sell them than it is for them to steal the car and then try to sell the car.
The most commonly targeted vehicles are Hondas, Toyotas and Acuras. They are the most popular car models on the road and have higher quality parts than comparable American cars.
To avoid a break-in, always lock your car, leave the windows rolled up and valuables stowed out of sight. Also GPS devices are common targets for thieves, yet drivers frequently leave them attached to the windshield or a dashboard. If your car is stolen or broken into, call the police immediately. Most cars can be recovered within 72 hours of their theft.
Prom is a right of passage for many high school juniors and seniors. However, this year the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) is warning parents, teens and friends that is it illegal to provide alcohol to teens. DPS is implementing “social host” ordinances that make it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place. This ordinance is a misdemeanor and any host found criminally responsible of violating the ordinance will face a penalty of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.
In fact, if an adult provides alcohol to minors, the adult can be held responsible and suffer serious criminal, legal, and financial consequences including felony charges and prison time in the case of death. In addition, the adult can face civil liability charges in a case of injury, property damage or death as well as increased insurance rates. In January, a 21- year-old Wisconsin man was charged with providing alcohol to Minnesota teens and is facing felony charges and prison time. The teen driver later crashed near Stillwater, killing one of her passengers.
Minnesota also has a “Not a Drop” law. This law is targeted to minors who drive and consume any amount of alcohol. The result is a loss of their license from 30 to 180 days, a $700 fine and 90 days in jail. A citation of this nature will also stay on the driver’s record for 15 years. There were nearly 7,000 “not a drop” convictions issued to underage drivers during 2005–2007.
However, if minors are arrested for DWI or impaired driving crash, they will lose their license until age 18. If arrested it can result in one year in jail, and cost up to $20,000 when factoring in legal fees and increased insurance rates. A DWI remains on a person’s record for 15 years.
Teens should enjoy prom night. Parents, teens and friends should remember to be responsible and follow the law – no drinking and driving.
The week of April 18 through the 24th is National Crime Victims Rights Week. The state of Minnesota has proven leadership in protecting crime victims and to help them feel safe at home.
Nearly forty years ago, St. Paul, Minnesota opened its first shelter for battered women. The state was the first to fund services for victims of domestic violence in 1977. Over the past four decades, leaders in Minnesota have worked to raise awareness about crime victims’ rights as well as establish programs to help protect those who fear for their personal safety. Today the “Safe at Home” confidentiality program is statewide and administered by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Most of the people being served are victims of stalking and domestic violence.
This program is in its third year and is serving more than 600 people. There may be more people needing help in Minnesota. With the help of application assistants, who are local victim advocates trained to assist people with “Safe at Home” enrollment through community-based partners, the program can reach out in communities throughout Minnesota. In this way, the program can serve many more people in the years ahead. There are 140 application assistants to help serve as a gateway to the program, providing critical services and referrals in most counties.
For more information about the program or how to find a “Safe at Home” Application Assistant in your community, visit www.sos.state.mn.us or contact the program at: 651-201-1399.
According to a recent New York Times article , states nationwide are trimming their budgets by using early releasing programs in their prison populations. As a result, more convicted felons are on the streets and not behind bars.
Take for instance in the state of Illinois. Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, a Democrat, described its early release program as “a big mistake.” This program sent some convicts who had committed violent crimes home from prison in a matter of weeks. Of more than 1,700 prisoners released over three months, more than 50 were soon accused of new violations.
The state of Michigan seems to have the worse case scenario. The state has the fifth largest prison system in the country. Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat, has approved 133 commutations, which is more then some of her predecessors. In addition, she has expanded the state’s parole board to 15 members to allow more cases to be considered, and recently proposed a budget that presumes 7,500 fewer prisoners next year for savings of more than $130 million.
However, local prosecutors across the state of Michigan are challenging at least 20 of the parole decisions. Among the 13,541 inmates released on parole in 2009 was Scott W. Hankins, who has been convicted twice in sex cases and was given a thirty-year sentence. He has been accused of molesting other girls he had met at church, some of whom were developmentally disabled. The youngest girl was only seven years old. This man shows no remorse for his actions and should not have been allowed out on parole.
During these tough economic times, state governments still have the responsibility to keep their citizens safe. Cutting budgets in their prison populations should be carefully reviewed and be the last budget item to be cut.
According to a latest news article, the state of Ohio has weak laws in regard to human trafficking. Because of its close proximity to the Canadian border, specifically Toronto, many international victims arrive in Toronto then transported to other cities. In the city of Toledo, Ohio which is about 55 miles southwest of Windsor, Ontario, ranks fourth in the U.S. in terms of arrests, investigations and rescue of domestic child-sex victims.
Nationwide, between 45,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States. The other cities involved in human trafficking include Miami, Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas.
The state of Ohio does not have a stand-alone human trafficking law. Instead, the state law allows prosecutors to attach a human trafficking specification only to related crimes that increase prison sentences, for example, penalties are more severe if a crime involves a firearm.
Ohio needs to follow stricter state laws that are found in 42 other states. The laws are tougher in Delaware, Montana, New Mexico and New York. Human traffickers may face up to 100 years in prison.
With medical marijuana dispensaries blooming in Denver, Colorado, once again there seems to be more break-ins at these dispensaries. The latest episode occurred where the thieves stole the cash registers but no marijuana.
Why – because the marijuana was removed from the medical dispensary that night. As a result, the thieves only stole two cash registers along with a few other items. This was the fourth time that thieves tried to break into this dispensary. The first three times they were unsuccessful.
These types of break-ins are part of a debate in how to protect dispensaries. Currently, there is no law requiring dispensary owners to remove their marijuana or locking it up overnight. There are only three security rules for marijuana dispensaries: a safe, a camera and an alarm system.
Some experts want medical marijuana dispensaries to follow pharmacies guidelines, rules and regulations. Pharmacies are required to secure all medications, lock up in a safe its highly addictive narcotics, and have cameras and security system. Currently the law does not require medical marijuana dispensaries to expand any type of security system. This is left to the owner/operator of the dispensary.
As long as the opportunity is there for thieves to break-into a medical marijuana dispensary crime will continue. Will it take state legislators to develop rules and regulations or will owners take the initiative in order to secure their dispensaries?
Currently, 14 states have approved medical marijuana dispensaries in their states. The most recent state is New Jersey. New Jersey’s out going governor, Jon Corzine, signed legislation granting chronically ill patients legal access to marijuana. According to the new law on the books in New Jersey, these dispensaries will provide medical marijuana to patients with diseases such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis to alleviate their pain and other symptoms. Patients need prescriptions from doctors in order to access the drug. Growing marijuana at home, remains illegal as well as driving while high is also illegal.
However, what New Jersey doesn’t know is that these dispensaries can be a breeding ground for crime. Since Denver, Colorado approved medical marijuana dispensaries, there have been 25 related robberies in just seven months. Crimes include 13-dispensary stickups and 12 other pot related robberies. The targets range from medical marijuana growing operations to home invasion robberies of medical marijuana patients. As a result, the Denver City Council and state lawmakers are considering legislation to tighten regulation of the blooming medical marijuana dispensaries whose large amounts of cash and drugs have made them magnets for violent crime.
Denver isn’t the only city facing crime with medical marijuana dispensaries, Los Angeles, California has seen an explosion of dispensaries along with violent crimes associated with the dispensaries. Organized gangs are robbing dispensaries, triggering shootouts with armed dispensary workers and even murder of an unarmed pot shop guard.
Are tighter regulations the solution to this problem or is it the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries the problem? As long as criminals are looking for pot for personal use or for sale, they will continue their crime spree.