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Recently in White-collar Criminal Charges Category

Feds Increasing Raids on "Pill Mill" Operations in Santa Ana, Statewide

In recent weeks, two major pill-mill busts have been announced by federal investigators who are also alleging the defendants defrauded Medicare in the process.

The most recent centered around a doctor in Glendale and a pharmacy in San Marion, The Associated Press reports.
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A few weeks earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported, 14 people were indicted and charged with operating an OxyContin ring where identities and even Medicare beneficiary information was stolen.

Pill mills have been getting a lot of attention from law enforcement agencies as they have become much more profitable and easier to operate than large-scale marijuana, cocaine and heroin businesses of the past.

In pill-mill operations, doctors, pharmacists and drug delivery companies have all come under scrutiny for allegations of fraud in Santa Ana and elsewhere. Not only are investigators considering these drug cases, but also fraud cases and possibly racketeering operations.

This makes the charges even more difficult to beat, but it's not impossible. As Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers know, these complicated investigations often ensnare a dozen or more defendants, while the facts may not support convictions for all of them.

In order to show that a person is guilty of fraud in these drug cases, prosecutors must prove there is intent and knowledge of such a scheme. A low-end employee may have unknowingly operated a part of the scheme without realizing he or she was involved in illegal activity, for instance.

In the first alleged operation, a doctor, operators of pain clinics and others -- 14 total -- were indicted on charges of insurance fraud and operating a scheme to obtain and illegally distribute the painful painkiller OxyContin.

Officials accuse doctors of writing prescriptions to uninsured patients who didn't need the drug. Medicare and other insurance companies were also fraudulently billed by pharmacies, the indictments allege. In some cases, Medicare beneficiary information and identities were stolen. The penalties range from 10 to 40 years in prison.

In the most recent alleged scam, 16 people operated an $18 million scheme that defrauded Medicare after veterans, the homeless, elderly and poor were recruited. Court documents accuse a pain clinic doctor of writing prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs, such as Seroquel, Abilify and Zyprexa.

The drugs were billed to Medi-Cal and Medicare, but didn't go to the people whose names were on the bill, the news report states. The drugs were instead sold illegally and funneled to San Gabriel Valley, where they were repackaged and resold for profit.

Some Medicare beneficiaries whose identities were stolen were later denied coverage after this happened, authorities allege. The government alleges that of the $18 million in billing, about $7.3 million was actually paid out. One pharmacy -- Huntington Pharmacy in San Marino -- had less than $45,000 in Medi-Cal claims in 2009, but that jumped to $1.5 million a year later.

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Santa Ana Couple Accused of Faking Death in Order to Defraud Social Security

The Orange County District Attorney's Office alleges that a Santa Ana couple faked the husband's death in order to steal more than $400,000 in Social Security and other pension benefits over seven years, The Orange County Register reports.

The 51-year-old husband and his 52-year-old wife are each charged with two counts of grand theft with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and property loss over $200,000, the newspaper reports.
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Fraud in Santa Ana and other white collar crimes designed to obtain money are some of the most complex in the legal system. They typically require intense analysis and scrutiny of financial records, bank statements and other information. This must be entrusted to an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney.

If convicted, the newspaper reports, each spouse faces up to seven years and eight months in prison. They are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. According to authorities, the man lived for about two decades under a false name. In 2004, after plotting with his wife to fake a death under that name, he traveled to Mexico to obtained a death certificate for a fake heart attack after bribing authorities.

He then returned to the United States and began living under his real name with his wife. Later that year, the wife began receiving death benefits until the couple was arrested recently. Authorities received a tip, which led to the arrests, the newspaper says.

This case, and others like it, require a lot of digging by prosecutors and law enforcement officers, who must sift through many records in order to prove a case. And sometimes even doing that isn't enough. In this case, it appears prosecutors will require cooperation from Mexican authorities, which is no easy task.

Many times, fraud can be explained as simple mistakes in business deals or for individuals, incorrect paperwork that was filed on either end of a transaction. But along with possible prison time, these charges can require defendants to pay back money that is proven to be stolen.

This is called restitution and can be a heavy burden on a defendant. While the amount must be proven by the prosecution, a defendant may be required to pay back hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in theft cases. And this must be done even after being sent to prison, making paying the money back even more difficult.

That's why Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorneys take these charges so seriously. On top of the punishment of prison, there are other sanctions that must be taken into consideration and defended against. The first step if you are being investigated is to contact a firm for a free consultation to discuss the case and come up with possible defense options.

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Being Convicted of a Crime in Santa Ana can have Long-Term Consequences

A recent article in The New York Times highlights the struggle of those looking to seal or expunge a criminal record in Santa Ana. Drug charges, theft crimes and other misdemeanor and felony offenses can make it difficult or impossible to obtain certain jobs or hold certain occupational licenses.

Some charges can't be expunged. And even traffic violations, like DUI, can make it difficult to obtain certain jobs. Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers understand the long-term ramifications of having a criminal record and we encourage you to fight criminal charges. The short-term cost of the fight often pales in comparison to the long-term cost of a serious criminal conviction.
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The Times tells the story of a 38-year-old woman who has trained in medical administration and completed a degree in psychology at the University of California, Berkley in the 14 years since she was convicted of robbing a video store in 1997. Still, that old conviction has cost her more than a dozen job opportunities since graduating from college last year.

And the Internet is making it cheaper and easier than ever before for an employer to conduct a criminal background check; almost 90 percent of employers in a recent survey said they conducted criminal background checks on some or all applicants.

The problem is not going away; some 65 million Americans (about 1 in 5) have a criminal record, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project. And each year about 700,000 are released from state and federal prisons.

Advocates say it's a form of discrimination. But employers are under no obligation to abide by the same rules that protect women, minorities and the disabled. Being a convicted criminal is not a protect class in today's workforce.

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New Port Beach Elder Fraud Case Calls into Question Legitimacy of Power-of-Attorney

A 41-year-old Newport Beach man is facing a Santa Ana burglary charge, caretaker theft from an elder, fraudulently using an access card and three counts of forgery. Police say he swindled a deaf and blind 98-year-old woman suffering from dementia.

A Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer will also have to defend against several sentencing enhancements, including allegations for a non-accomplice present during a residential burglary, causing over $100,000 in loss, aggravated white-collar crime over $100,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, he faces up to 11 years in prison.

Theft crimes in Santa Ana are among the most common criminal charges. Statewide, there were 585,813 property crimes reported in 2009. In 202,639 cases, the value of the property was more than $4,000, according to the California Department of Justice.

Financial crimes, especially those dealing with fraudulent use of credit cards and bank accounts, can be complex cases that are difficult to prove. An experienced defense lawyer will conduct a thorough review of the case and may challenge the validity of some of the charges. If a negotiated deal is in a client's best interest, the attorney will likely be successful in significantly reducing the number and severity of charges the client faces.

Police accuse the defendant in this case of moving into the house without the victim's knowledge after his mother became the woman's live-in caretaker. He is accused of using the woman's credit card to charge items for his girlfriend, of taking out a loan against her house, and of having the woman sign over power of attorney.

Medical experts contend she was not competent to do so. Cases involved powers-of-attorney can be particularly complex. Such powers are often granted to care for an elderly person who is becoming incapable of remaining self-sufficient. Whether the woman is incompetent now -- and whether she was incompetent at the time such powers were granted -- is an issue for the court to decide, regardless of the opinion offered by law enforcement.

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Men facing White-Collar Criminal Charges alleging Investment Fraud in Santa Ana

An attorney facing charges of felony grand theft in Santa Ana is accused of stealing nearly $1 million by using his credentials to legitimize fraud schemes, the Orange County Register reported.

Veteran Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys have seen an increase in these types of cases since the beginning of the economic downturn. Federal and state white-collar criminal defense requires a law firm with the knowledge, experience and resources to mount an aggressive defense. Particularly when a professional license, such as a law license, medical license or financial professionals' license is involved, the consequences of a criminal conviction can lead to professional and financial ruin.
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In this case, the 68-year-old Irvine defendant faces 16 felony counts of using untrue statements in the sale or purchase of securities and 11 felony counts of grand theft. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for aggravated white-collar crime of more than $500,000, theft exceeding $150,000 and property loss of more than $200,000.

A 66-year-old co-defendant from Laguna Woods will face the same charges in Orange County Superior Court. A third defendant, who lived in Lake Forest, has died.

The men allegedly accepted fees ranging from $25,000 to $177,000 as part of investment schemes. If convicted, each faces nearly 30 years in state prison. They are being held on $2 million bail.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the men approached victims who needed financing for various projects and charged them large fees under the pretence of securing funding. The first victim was allegedly promised $6 million in financing to build a luxury resort in Baja in exchange for a $25,000 fee. After 19 months without financing, he made a theft complaint with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office. Ten other alleged victims have since been identified. Some took out home equity lines of credit and additional mortgages on their homes in order to pay fees to the defendants, according to authorities.

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Bookkeeper facing a Century in Prison on Forgery and Theft Charges in Santa Ana

A 37-year-old bookkeeper is facing white-collar theft charges in Santa Ana for allegedly using her position at a local church to write 154 checks to herself, totaling nearly $130,000, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

A Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyer will likely succeed in reducing the number of charges and the potential penalty faced by this defendant. As it stands, she is facing 154 counts of forgery and more than a century in prison. This is classic and often typical when such cases are filed by the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Often, investigators threatened novice defendants with such mind-boggling time behind bars. In reality, she will never face conviction of that many charges. And even if she did, a judge would never order maximum consecutive sentencing -- if he did it would become an appeal issue.
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Unfortunately, those who are least familiar with the criminal justice system are often the most vulnerable. In many cases, they will attempt to explain themselves to authorities with the hopes of helping themselves. This is rarely the result. It is an investigator's job to gather evidence of your guilt. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is usually the best course of action when it comes to protecting your rights once such an investigation is under way.

Authorities allege she used her position at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where she worked as bookkeeper from 2007 to 2009, to write checks to herself from church accounts without the knowledge of church officials. At the time she was hired at the church, she had already been convicted of grand theft, the Times reported.

A prior conviction will certainly make negotiating a plea more difficult and could open a defendant up to tougher sentencing. Hiring an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Santa Ana will be all the more critical.

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