The White Collar Defense Report® provides updates on cases, policy developments and trends in the white collar area, including federal criminal matters as well as civil cases such as qui tam cases and SEC enforcement actions.
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Health Care Fraud & False Claims Act
Amanda Lowry, 40, of Sherman, was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to obtain information from a protected computer. According to court documents, Lowry and two co-defendants breached a health care provider’s electronic health record system to steal confidential patient information, which they “repackaged” in the form of fraudulent physician orders and sold to durable medical equipment providers and contractors for more than $1.4 million. Lowry and her co-defendants used the money to purchase sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, and jet skis.
Theodis Lamond Jefferson, 37, of Arkansas, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.9 million in restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud TRICARE, a health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense. According to court documents, Jefferson received more than $5.9 million from January 2015 to June 2015 from pharmacies and groups that provided and marketed compounded medications. Jefferson allegedly defrauded TRICARE by making and receiving unlawful payments for the prescription of compounded drugs to TRICARE beneficiaries. Jefferson paid bribes to prescribing physicians and kickbacks to TRICARE beneficiaries, who unlawfully enriched themselves from TRICARE reimbursements for covered compounded drugs.
Two Texas companies — Alliance Family of Companies LLC and Ancor Holdings LP — have agreed to pay a combined $15.3 million to resolve allegations of kickbacks and other misconduct resulting in the submission of false claims to federal health care programs. According to the settlement, Alliance, a national electroencephalography (EEG) testing company based in Texas, will pay $13.5 million to resolve allegations that it submitted or caused to be submitted false claims to federal health care programs that resulted from kickbacks to referring physicians or that sought payment for work not performed or for which only a lower level of reimbursement was justified. According to the settlement, Ancor will pay over $1.8 million for causing false billings resulting from the kickback scheme through its management agreement with Alliance.
Could your business already be in DOJ’s crosshairs?
Health care fraud investigations and prosecutions are on the rise, and scrutiny of physicians and other medical professionals can lead to career-ending charges. A mere investigation can cause untold damage to one’s reputation, to say nothing of the possible criminal penalties. Health care professionals and executives in Texas and across the country are encouraged to seek experienced counsel if they receive any indication they are being investigated.
At The Law Offices of Dan C. Guthrie, Jr., we have decades of experience both prosecuting and defending individuals in white collar crime cases, including many major health care prosecutions that ended in no indictment for our client.
Texas PPP & Coronavirus Fraud
Dinesh Sah, 55, of Coppell, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for wire-fraud and money-laundering offenses in connection with his fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $24.8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans. He was also ordered to pay $17 million in restitution. According to court documents, Sah submitted 15 fraudulent applications, filed under the names of various purported businesses that he owned or controlled, to eight different lenders seeking approximately $24.8 million in PPP loans. He claimed that these businesses had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses when, in fact, no business had employees or paid wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the PPP applications. Sah received over $17 million in PPP loan funds and diverted the proceeds for his personal benefit, using them to purchase multiple homes in Texas, pay off the mortgages on other homes in California, and buy a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley convertible, Corvette Stingray, and Porsche Macan.
Arael Doolittle, 56, of Houston, pleaded guilty to a scheme to fraudulently sell 50 million non-existent N95 face masks to the Australian government. The Australian government was supposed to pay over $317 million for the masks, but authorities disrupted the transaction before it was completed. Doolittle faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Stewart Kile Williams, 31, of Sweetwater, had almost nine years tacked onto his sentence for perpetrating a $12.3 million fraud while on pretrial release in a separate fraud case. Williams pleaded guilty in March to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. He was also ordered to pay roughly $7.4 million in restitution. According to court documents, Williams committed these crimes in 2018 and 2019, while on pretrial release for selling non-existent cattle to a ranch in Decatur for $2.5 million. He eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution.
Angelica Garcia Dunn, 47, of Katy, pleaded guilty to scheming to defraud British Petroleum by diverting over $2.2 million in vendor payments to her own business accounts. She worked as a contract escrow agent with BP. As part of her duties, she provided third-party services by making vendor payments to BP’s railcar lessors and repair vendors. Dunn received lump sum payments from BP to make vendor payments through a bank account over which she had sole authority. It was from these funds that she took approximately $2.2 million in BP funds that were supposed to be for vendors.
Olumide Bankole Morakinyo, 38, a Nigerian national residing in Canada, was sentenced to eight years in prison and repayment of $975,863 in restitution to multiple victims for conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Morakinyo conspired with Lukman Shina Aminu, a resident of New Hampshire, to create unauthorized accounts for participants in the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) internet portal. Personally identifiable information (PII) of various ERS participants was used to make changes to their accounts in the ERS internet portal. Bank deposit information on file in the system was changed to re-route retirement payments to debit cards controlled by Aminu, who used the money for personal expenses and for buying used vehicles to be shipped overseas to Nigeria and Benin for resale.
Texas Public Corruption & Drug Trafficking
Laura Jordan, also known as Laura Maczka, 56, and Mark Jordan, 54, both of Plano, were found guilty of bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, tax fraud, and conspiracy to commit tax fraud. Maczka is a former Richardson mayor and Jordan is a land developer. According to court records, Maczka and Jordan conspired to devise and execute a scheme to commit bribery. Maczka allegedly supported and repeatedly voted for controversial zoning changes sought by Jordan, ultimately allowing for the construction of over 1,000 new apartments in Richardson near other Richardson neighborhoods. In exchange, Jordan paid Maczka over $18,000 in cash, an additional $40,000 by check, and paid for over $24,000 in renovations to Maczka’s home. Jordan also paid for luxury hotel stays and airfare upgrades for Maczka, and provided Maczka lucrative employment at one of Jordan’s companies. According to court testimony, Maczka and Jordan failed to disclose to the public that they had coordinated to affect the zoning changes Jordan wanted and that Jordan had provided a stream of benefits to Maczka.
Eric S. Jarvis, 48, of Mission, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing federal documents to assist a known drug trafficking organization. Jarvis, a criminal defense attorney in McAllen, admitted to assisting drug trafficker Angel Aziel Herrera and his successors in Mexico by obtaining documents that provided information regarding co-conspirators during the ongoing investigation. Jarvis knew criminal complaints had documented loads that law enforcement seized from the organization. He also knew Herrera and his successors could and would provide the complaints to their sources of supply to continue receiving drugs from their sources of supply for importation and distribution into the United States.
Manuel Camilo Renteria Lemus, 37, of Colombia, was sentenced in Texas to nearly three decades in federal prison for drug trafficking violations. According to court records, Lemus was the head of the Panamanian cell of the Clan Del Golfo (CDG) Cartel operating in Colombia, Panama, and elsewhere and was responsible for receiving maritime shipments of cocaine in Palmira, conducting enforcement operations, and collecting taxes and tributes for the CDG. Lemus was apprehended and prosecuted as part of “Operation Dragoneante,” a multinational anti-drug investigation.