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Feds Crack Down Again on Health Care Fraud

The need for having an experienced, knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney has never been greater today than it has been in several years. Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., announced the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, involving 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in false billings. Of those charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests. In addition, HHS has initiated suspension actions against 295 providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The charges — like most prosecuted by the Department of Justice — aggressively target schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE (a health insurance program for members and veterans of the armed forces and their families) for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries. The charges also involve individuals allegedly contributing to the opioid epidemic, with a particular focus on medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics, a particular focus for the Department. According to the CDC, approximately 91 Americans die every day of an opioid related overdose.   The Gov’t Has a Medicare Fraud Strike Force, Who Do You Have To Fight Against Them? The Government has a Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint initiative between the...

Health Care Fraud Criminal Defense

Federal authorities recently announced that roughly 300 people in more than half the states have been charged in the largest crackdown to date on health care fraud.  Those arrested accounted for more than $900 million in false billings to Medicare and Medicaid.  Among those arrested were 60 licensed medical professionals, including 30 doctors.  The billings were for treatments or services deemed medically unnecessary — or for services that were never provided at all, including home care, medical equipment, and phony prescriptions. Offenses Charged in Health Care Fraud Schemes Individuals in these cases are typically charged with various health care fraud-related crimes. These include conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.  The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services, including home health care, psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) and prescription drugs.  In this specific case, more than 60 of the defendants arrested were charged with fraud related to the Medicare prescription drug benefit program known as Part D, the fastest-growing component of the Medicare program overall. Typical Schemes Allegedly Used Defendants in these cases are typically alleged to have participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare and Medicaid for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided.  In many cases, patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators are allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers.  The providers will then, in turn, allegedly submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that are considered medically unnecessary or never performed. The Gov’t Has a Medicare...

Brent Mayr Obtains New Trial for Client Previously Sentenced to 15 Years for Intoxication Manslaughter

Facing a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas is tough enough.  Being convicted and sentenced to prison for it is even tougher.  That is the situation that Desiree Skaf and her family found themselves in back in March 2016.  Represented by other attorneys, Skaf was talked into pleading guilty in exchange for a 7 year prison sentence.  The 23 year-old client had never been in trouble before with the law, had an incredible support structure around her, and had proven herself to be an upstanding citizen.  Nevertheless, she was facing having to turn herself into prison officials in 30 days. She and her family came to Brent Mayr for another option, a way out, and a second chance to fight for real justice.  It was a fortunate decision.  Upon returning to court, she suddenly found herself in a situation she never expected – instead of the 7 year sentence, the Judge in her case sentenced her to 15 years in prison.  She was immediately taken into custody and transported to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to begin serving her sentence. While Brent Mayr was tasked with handling her appeal, he took advantage of an exception in the law that allows a person to challenge their conviction before the case proceeds into the appellate arena:  a Motion for New Trial.  Motions for New Trial are requests to the Judge who convicted and sentenced the client to “change their mind,” throw out the conviction and sentence, and permit the person to start anew.  They are rarely granted.  They are also very difficult to investigate and prepare for.  Under state law,...

Brent Mayr Works to Convince DA to Drop Charges Against Hempstead ISD Superintendent

Delma Flores-Smith had her entire life put on hold. Back in 2013, she was hired as superintendent of Hempstead Independent School District, brought in to help clean up a school district that was in shambles.  She went to work, identifying multiple problems and developing effective solutions. Unfortunately, her work drew the ire of many in the community who did not appreciate her methods and preferred to “leave things the way they be.” Delma’s actions drew national attention when she took punitive action against one of her school’s principals for announcing on the school intercom that students were prohibited from speaking Spanish on school grounds (http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Hempstead-principal-fired-over-Spanish-issue-will-5351254.php). Within time, members of the Waller County community made it their mission to get rid of her. When their efforts proved futile, they went to the Waller County District Attorney and asked him to bring her up on criminal charges. His investigation turned up nothing.  Nevertheless, one persistent opponent insisted that Delma violated open records law and presented her case to a Waller County Grand Jury. The next thing you knew, Delma found herself charged with three counts of Tampering with a Government Document. It was alleged that, upon request for information, she broke the law when she provided her current resume, as opposed to the one she gave to the school district when she applied with the district, one that was supposed to have been on file. Fortunately, Delma made the decision to bring on Brent Mayr to defend her against the charges. Even more fortunate was the fact that Mayr had the receptive ear of the Waller County District Attorney and his...

Brent Mayr Convinces Grand Jury to Toss Out Vehicular Manslaughter Charges; Client Now Going After GM

It has been a long, traumatic road for Zachary Stevens and his family. With the help of Brent Mayr, however, not only is he on the road to freedom, he also stands to hold the real party responsible for his tragic story accountable. On November 15, 2011, around 4:30 in the afternoon, Zachary Stevens left his home in a neighborhood right off of FM 1485, a couple of miles east of US-59 in New Caney. Severe weather and rain showers had just moved through the area and the roadways were still very wet. Zach was traveling westbound on the two lane highway with a number of cars ahead of him following each other fairly close. All of a sudden, Zach recalled one of the vehicles applying their brakes. The rest of it was a blur to him. According to witnesses, he swerved onto the shoulder to avoid colliding with the slower vehicles, passing them on the shoulder. Once past the vehicles, Zach was able to maneuver his car back into the westbound lane of travel. The wet roads, however, proved to be too treacherous. The tires of his vehicle lost their traction and Zach’s car began to hydroplane. It would “yaw” from the westbound lane into the oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane. Traveling in the opposite direction in a Nissan Frontier pickup truck was Mariano Landaverde. He was not wearing his seat belt. He tried to take evasive action but was unable to avoid the nearly head-on collision. Although his vehicle was equipped with one, his airbag failed to deploy. Between that and his failure to wear a...