Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Former South Daytona Mayor, Magistrate Start Prison Terms For Taking Bribes

Mayor Ron Clifton
 Two former South Daytona city officials convicted of accepting bribes from an FBI informant are reporting to prison this week.
Former South Daytona Mayor Ron Clifton left for the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola on Wednesday and former special magistrate Jerome Mitchell -- a disbarred attorney -- is expected to arrive there today. The men were sentenced by U.S. Judge Mary Scriven for their roles in a bribery scandal that shocked South Daytona last year. The men's prison is just outside the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Clifton was sentenced to 24 months and Mitchell to 37 months. The bribes -- $7,500 paid to Clifton and $5,000 to Mitchell -- were given in exchange for Clifton and Mitchell agreeing to reduce city code liens lodged against the River Club Condominium, 3131 S. Ridgewood Ave.
The maximum penalty for bribery is up to 10 years in prison.
A confidential informant sent in by the FBI paid both men after meeting with them several times. On each occasion, the informant was equipped with a wire and a small camera, according to court documents and court proceedings.

Jerome Mitchell -- a disbarred attorney
 On one of the occasions when Clifton and the informant talked alone at Clifton's residence, the former mayor's children could be heard playing in the background, an audio played in open court revealed.
It has never been revealed why the FBI targeted the two men, who were once close friends.
The confidential informant's cover was blown by Clifton at his sentencing hearing in federal court in Orlando on Sept. 15, when he blurted out the man's first name in a moment of raw emotion.
The informant was identified as Stuart Buchanan, a Brevard County planner who has been working with the FBI for several months on various investigations. Buchanan has also worked for the cities of South Daytona, Holly Hill and Daytona Beach.
Both Mitchell and Clifton accepted the cash in exchange for Mitchell's guarantee that the $241,000 in liens piled against the River Club property would be lowered. Mitchell then lowered those liens to $12,500 at a code enforcement hearing that Buchanan attended, records show.
The Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola is a minimum-security facility.

Federal Prison Camp In Pensacola florida

Clifton left for Pensacola on Wednesday and Mitchell is expected to report sometime this afternoon, said his attorney Mike Lambert.
Scriven had ordered both men to surrender today, but Clifton decided to go early.
"He wanted to go early and get things started," said Clifton's attorney James Dickson Crock. "He wants to get on with his life."
But not before he had a small gathering at a Port Orange establishment.
Clifton's wife, Sherry Clifton, sent out an invitation of sorts asking friends to report to the First Turn Steakhouse and Lounge in Port Orange on Tuesday night.
In the invite Sherry Clifton wrote: "For all of you that know Ron and I so well, you really didn't think that I was going to let him go without a party!!

Attorney Mike Lambert

In a "P.S." in the invitation, Sherry Clifton also wrote: "He can't take any gifts with him on Wednesday!! LOL."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finkelstein: Six Cops Should Be Charged For Bad Arrests.

Coral Springs Officer Tim Coker

A Coral Springs Officer arrested a homeowner while he was negotiating a mortgage modification.  The officer then bought the house from the lender while the man was in jail.
Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said this week the case of Coral Springs Officer Tim Coker was just one of five alleged cases of police misconduct to justify unlawful arrests.
Finkelstein has asked State Attorney Mike Satz to prosecute the six officers.
In several cases, the officers were caught by using computer technology.
“We all know (what) has been happening to my clients for years – illegal and unjustified stops by law enforcement for DWB (driving while black)…Technology shed light on an ugly fact: some police officers lie to justify the means to an end,” Finkelstein wrote in a letter to Satz.
The cases of alleged wrongdoing by officers include :
* Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Marc Berman said he checked the tag of a vehicle on April 3 and found that the owner did not have a valid driver’s license, justifying a traffic stop.   The driver was arrested when the deputy claimed he found an active arrest warrant.

A check of the state archived report system in Tallahassee found that Berman never checked drivers license information prior to the traffic stop.
The case was dropped by prosecutors.
*  Hallandale Officer Chris Goulding said he stopped a van after a check of the tag indicated the driver had a suspended license.  The driver was jailed.
The van was registered to the driver’s wife, whose license was suspended.  There was no way for Goulding to know the driver also had a suspended license before the traffic stop.  A judge granted a motion to supress.
* Coral Springs Officer Tim Coker saw a man leaving a house and searched him. Several prescription drugs were found and the man was arrested.
The defendant had been in the house at the invitation of his wife.  He told the officer the couple was in negotiations with a bank to modify their mortgage.
“By arresting (the defendant), Officer Coker had prevented him from doing anything related to further negotiating with his mortgage lender,” states Finkelstein’s letter to Satz.
The defendant was arrested May 4, 2010.  A few months later while the defendant remained in jail, Coker contacted the lender and purchased the property out of foreclosure, according to the letter.
Coker refused to answer questions during a deposition about the house, saying it was his personal business.

“When presented with these facts, this case was dropped by the State. This case is also under review by the Coral Springs Police Department/Internal Affairs,” states Finkelstein’s letter.
* Fort Lauderdale Officers Ian Sandman and Jose Dejo said they ran the tags of a vehicle before stopping it and charging the driver with driving with a suspended license.
A check of the state system disclosed the tag was never run prior to the traffic stop.
The case was dismissed.
* Officer Jefferson Alvarez in a probable cause affidavit said that he observed the defendant in an abandoned gas station, ran the tag and found out the driver’s license was suspended.
The defendant’s explanation that he had pulled in to change a tire was ignored. He was arrested.
A check of the state system indicated another officer ran the tag.  A check of a GPS system indicated two officers arrived on the scene before Alvarez. The officers allowed Alverez to take credit for the arrest.
“I urge you to use the power conferred on you by virtue of your position to prosecute police officers who lie,” Finkelstein wrote to Satz.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Investigators Turn Up More Conflict of Interest at Florida AG Bondi’s Office

In New York we see elites attacking the Attorney General for doing his job. In Florida, however, there’s a different dynamic going on.

June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards,

I’ve written about June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, the two foreclosure fraud investigators at the state Attorney General’s office fired for being too competent in their investigations. This appeared to be a US Attorney-like scandal at the state level, but I wasn’t hopeful that much would come of it. Boy, was I wrong. The news media in Florida picked up on this and wouldn’t let go. Set against a backdrop of a foreclosure crisis, firing the people closest to getting at the corruption and fraud resonated sharply against the Attorney General, Pam Bondi, and her staff. Bondi, after making nods toward defending the decision, then initiated an outside investigation into the firing. And that still wasn’t enough to satiate the press. This is a devastating article from the Orlando Sentinel a couple days ago:

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Eight months after she took office as a first-time elected official, Attorney General Pam Bondi is facing a management crisis replete with allegations of old-fashioned political interference in cases and a revolving door between lawyers and the companies they investigate.
An outside investigator is looking into the circumstances surrounding the May firings of foreclosure fraud investigators June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards. This week, another investigator abruptly resigned after giving the media a 16-page memo noting that two other high-profile lawyers in the attorney general’s office had taken jobs with companies under investigation, and accusing top management of interfering in an investigation of a prominent Tampa car dealership [...]
The latest blast came from Andrew Spark, who resigned from Bondi’s Tampa economic crimes office and said in a 16-page, memo that he was speaking out because the public deserved “fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests.”

Bill McCollum
 He complained that two top lawyers, former assistant attorney general Joe Jacquot and former Economic Crimes Division Director Mary Leontakianakos, had both taken jobs with foreclosure companies under state investigation, Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services and the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson in Fort Lauderdale. Both had worked for Bondi’s predecessor, Bill McCollum, who lost a primary bid for governor last fall.
Jacquot said Friday he had avoided any involvement in the investigation into LPS months before taking a job with the company, and is legally banned from representing the company before his old office. Leontakianakos, a 25-year veteran of four administrations, was hired this summer by the Watson law firm two months after it reached a $2 million settlement with the AG’s office. She said Friday she cleared the job with the state Ethics Commission and made certain the investigation into the Watson firm was closed before she interviewed for the job.

So not only were Clarkson and Edwards fired for, among other things, pursuing investigations against LPS, but other lawyers at the AGs office were JOINING LPS after they settled with the state.
Some of Bondi’s other troubles concern an adverse judicial ruling that really undercuts her consumer protection responsibilities. And that’s just garden-variety ideology trumping the law. But even in that case, Bondi’s office declined to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, apparently preferring to tie their own hands.
The pressure is on Pam Bondi. I didn’t think that, in this environment, she would go the way of Alberto Gonzales. But with an independent investigation sure to produce more revelations, it’s certainly possible.
UPDATE: The Sentinel article made it sound like Bondi’s office settled with LPS, but their only settlement as it relates to foreclosure fraud was a $2 million deal with the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, a foreclosure mill law firm.

By: David Dayen Monday August 15, 2011 6:55 am

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Florida Way, Corruption

May 8, 2011

When people think about political corruption they think of places like Chicago and New York but the number one state for corruption in America is Florida.  Florida has had more public officials found guilty of corruption than any other state in the last decade, a staggering 824 politicians. These are just the ones who got caught.
But the savvy politician does not have to break the law. They can simply set up a consulting company and circumvent every campaign law. It has become the Florida Way.

State Senator Mike Fasano

Consulting fees are nothing more than buying access to elected officials and obtaining political favors. Why do lawyers, engineers, and doctors give up their careers to make $30,000 a year as a legislator in Tallahassee? We hope this is a public service but for many they make more money as politicians than in the private sector.

 Let’s say you are a certain transportation company seeking legislation that will help your bottom line. Campaign laws limit the amount of money you can give to a political campaign, but in Florida you can hire elected officials as “consultants” and pay them whatever you want. There are numerous examples of powerful elected officials being paid tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees or to perform marketing studies despite the fact they never performed those services before they held elected office.

The average taxpayer does not have a fighting chance when powerful special interests throw millions of dollars at elected officials. If an elected official has a choice between feeding their family or serving the taxpayer they will chose their family every time.
State Senator Mike Fasano proposed an ethics reform bill this year. The problem is Fasano accepted a job with a powerful company just weeks after approving Sun Rail that helped his new employer. Ethics reform should prevent elected officials from taking consulting fees or jobs from companies that do business with the State of Florida.

We currently have elected officials employed in “government affairs” with companies who benefit from their work. If an elected official has a job with a company that does business with the State of Florida, that representative should be barred from voting on legislation that affects their company. These public servants are not serving the public at all. They put themselves in a position of power to help their employers.
Corruption is no longer cash in a brown paper bag. The corruption now comes in the form of consulting fees and jobs that influence public policy to the benefit of special interests. Florida desperately needs a major ethics reform law that bars elected officials from putting the interests of special interests above the citizens of Florida.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Corruption Case Snares Former Coral Springs Florida Mayor Scott Brook

Mayor Scott Brook
 When Former Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook dropped out of a state House race in September, he cited family reasons.
But there was something else brewing in the background.
Brook is apparently another politician dragged down by the dirty developers, Bruce and Shawn Chait.
The Florida Ethics Commission staff is recommending commissioners find probable cause to believe Brook broke state ethics laws.  He is alleged to have accepted a boat trip, food and drink from the Chaits while voting on their controversial golf course project.
Brook was a member of the Broward County Planning Council, which was considering the Chait’s plan to pave over two Tamarac golf courses.
According to ethics commission documents obtained by

In 2006, Brook asked the Chaits for use of their 74-foot Viking yacht to watch the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show on May 6.  The developers  said the yacht was not available, but offered Brook a 27-foot boat instead.
    • Brook accepted and took his wife, children, another couple and their children to view the show.  He was given free drinks and snacks.
    • Less than three weeks later, Brook voted to approve development of 161 acres the Chaits owned in Tamarac with 931 homes.
  • The staff report indicates that Brook admitted accepting the 3 1/2 hour boat ride and refreshments.  The staff put the trip’s value at $750.
    Staff investigators concluded Brook broke state laws forbidding unauthorized compensation and soliciting unauthorized compensation. 

 Non-lawyers call that accepting and soliciting a bribe.The commission will consider the staff’s recommendation next month.
The complaint was filed by Tim Donnelly, a chief investigator of public corruption in State Attorney Mike Satz’s office.  I have no idea why Donnelly did not file a criminal complaint against Brook.
Any punishment would be a fine, but not jail since it was a civil ethics complaint.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Fort Lauderdale Cops Arrested On Multiple Charges

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Fort Lauderdale Police Department has scheduled a news conference for 11:00 a.m. following the surrender and arrest of two of its police officers.
Detectives Brian Dodge and Billy Koepke are charged with multiple counts including racketeering, kidnapping, extortion, perjury, grand theft, making threats, and false arrest. Both men turned themselves in at the Broward Main Jail Thursday night and appeared in bond court Friday morning.
Bond was set for both men. The two officers are eligible for pre-trial release and will be under house arrest with GPS monitors once they make bond, according to the Sun Sentinel. The judge also ordered both men to give up their passports and have no contact with each other or potential witnesses in the case.
Dodge and Koepke, both members of a Street Crimes Unit formerly known as the Raiders, have been under investigation for months for allegedly robbing drug dealers of cash and contraband and kidnapping them at gunpoint to participate in drug operations, according to the South Florida Times.
Both officers have been on paid suspension from their jobs since April 18, police officials said.
The detectives came under scrutiny over a suspicious drug arrest at a Red Roof Inn, located at 4800 N. Powerline Road in Oakland Park. The men made two arrests at the motel but hotel security video contradicts their version of the arrests, states the Sentinel.

Michael Florenco

A police corruption task force, made up of Fort Lauderdale officers and FBI agents, turned up evidence that Koepke and Dodge claimed they found crack cocaine on a man who had none and stole several thousand dollars that should have been turned over as evidence, sources said.

Matthew Moceri

Two other officers, Matthew Moceri and Michael Florenco, have been suspended in the same investigation but have not been criminally charged.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Florida Hired Law Firm With Ties To Gov. Rick Scott

Associated Press
Florida has spent nearly a half-million dollars - and could spend even more - with a large, well-known law firm that has connections to both the Republican Party of Florida as well as Gov. Rick Scott.
Since August the state has paid nearly $400,000 to the law firm of Alston and Bird to defend a new state law that requires public employees to contribute 3 percent of their pay to the state pension fund.
The firm was hired at the urging of the Scott administration which asked Attorney General Pam Bondi to approve paying the firm hourly rates at $495 an hour or nearly $300 more than what is normally allowed.
The Scott administration and Bondi have defended the hiring of the firm, saying it specializes in the kind of litigation that the state is now involved in.

General Pam Bondi
 But the firm's roster also includes a one-time business associate of Scott.
While not working directly on the lawsuit, a senior counsel with the firm's Washington D.C. office is Thomas Scully. Scully is also a general partner with the New York investment firm of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. That's the investment firm that this June purchased Scott's shares in Solantic, a chain of urgent care clinics the governor started back in 2001.
Scully, who once led the Federation of American Hospitals, was appointed to the board of directors of Solantic back in 2008.
Scott last year valued his shares in Solantic at $62 million. He initially transferred his ownership interest to his wife's revocable trust prior to taking office in January. But then Scott sold the shares amid questions as to whether he could benefit financially from state efforts to privatize Medicaid and require drug testing for welfare recipients. Scott maintained that Solantic would not seek state contracts and said he was just too busy as governor to spend time overseeing business interests.

Scott, the former head of the massive Columbia/HCA hospital chain, said that he has known Scully for 20 years. But he said on Tuesday that he didn't know that Scully worked for Alston and Bird.
"I knew that he was with a firm in D.C. but I didn't know the name of the firm," Scott told The Associated Press.
Alston and Bird has offices in Brussels and across the nation, including Atlanta, but none in Florida. The firm is involved in a wide-range of areas, ranging from work it did as an examiner on the bankruptcy of Enron to lobbying in Washington D.C.
The firm conducted a forensic audit last year on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida that concluded that former Gov. Charlie Crist and former party chairman Jim Greer had misspent party money. Crist, who bolted the Republican Party last spring to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, blasted the audit at the time and denied he let the party pay for vacations he took.

Gov. Charlie Crist
 Federal campaign records from last year and early this year show that the Republican Party paid nearly $200,000 to Alston and Bird for its work.
Alston and Bird was first hired by the state back in early August after the Florida Education Association, other public employee unions and several individual workers asked a court to strike down the law that requires public employees to start contributing to the Florida Retirement System
Bondi's office - which is responsible for defending the state in lawsuits - signed off on a request from the Scott administration to hire the firm and to pay it more than normal hourly rates.
"We thought they were best," said Bondi when asked about it.
But State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, sharply criticized the hiring and questioned why the state couldn't at least hire a law firm that has offices located in the state.
"Did we have go all the way to D.C. to hire attorneys who get paid at more than twice the normal pay?" Rich said.

Follow the money

The contract between the state and the law firm caps the total compensation at $500,000. So far the state has paid out $391,000, a spokesman for the Department of Management Services said.
But Jason Dimitris, general counsel for the agency, said the state is likely to offer Alston and Bird a second contract since the first one only covered the trial at the circuit court level. Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford has not yet ruled on the pension lawsuit, but the case is expected to be appealed by the losing side.
Dimitris said that everyone involved in the litigation agreed on hiring Alston and Bird initially because of the "complex" nature of the pension lawsuit.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Florida corruption denies Congress the ability to ever to win the people’s trust.

Meet Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown
  Meet Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), seen here speaking on the floor of the U. S. House of Representatives. For those of you who may be wondering what on earth she is wearing in the picture to the left, that is some kind of super-size Florida Gators gown.  At least it is the Florida Gators colors, that much I am sure of. Rep. Brown has been a member of  Congress since 1993. Before that she served in the Florida House from 1985 -1991.  She was also a participant in Michael Moore’s slacker college voter drive tour, which also tells us something about her political ideology.

Mr. Alcee Hastings

    Rep. Brown is no stranger to controversy either. Back in 1993 the FEC investigated Rep. Brown for neglecting to take action towards her aid whom had been found to have been committing forgery by signing  a treasurer’s signature on financial documents. This was during Brown’s first year in Congress, and this staffer not only wasn’t fired, but stayed on Brown’s staff for five years while also being promoted as Brown’s Chief of Staff. Once again we see a Florida politician involved in corruption scandals without ever seeing any jail time. See my article about another wonder-ful Florida politician, Mr. Alcee Hastings.* he is the impeached federal Judge that Floridians have reelected numerous times, and is still in our Congress.

  Rep. Brown was also under investigation again in 1996 that concerned financial misdeeds concerning charges that Brown improperly received and spent a $10,000 check from a secret account used for money laundering by National baptist Leader leader Henry Lyons.  Brown admitted receiving the check but denied she had used the money improperly.  She was accused of not reporting the check or reporting who she received the money from. Brown said that she had taken the check and converted it into another check made out to Pameron Bus Tours to pay for transportation to a rally she organized in Tallahassee. She said that she didn’t have to report the money because the rally was to protest the reorganization of her district lines, and she did not use it for herself. If the $10,000 gift had been reported, it would have exceeded the $1,000 individual donation limit.  Jail time? None. Kicked out of office? Still there, thanks to the informed voters of Florida. The insanity continued as we see next.

 On June 9, 1998, the Congressional Accountability Project filed an ethics complaint against Brown. The Project called for the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate several violations of House Rule 10.  One of the complaints was that Brown’s daughter Shantrel, a lawyer who worked for the EPA in Washington, had received a $50,000 Lexus LS 400 automobile as a gift from an agent of a Gambian millionaire named Foutanga Sissoko. Sissoko, a friend of Congresswoman Brown, had been imprisoned in Miami after pleading guilty to charges of bribing a customs officer. Brown had worked to secure his release, pressuring U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to deport Sissoko back to his homeland as an alternative to continued incarceration. The Project held this violated the House gift rule, but Brown denied she had acted improperly. The congressional subcommittee investigating Brown found insufficient evidence to issue a Statement of Alleged Violation, but said she had acted with poor judgment in connection with Sissoko.  This is what happens when we have corrupto-crats in Congress deciding on punichment for fellow corrupto-crats. No punishment, no jail time and no justice for the people once again.
       Rep Brown, seeing that she was basically bulletproof to the laws of America at this point,  continued her assault on the integrity of the U. S. Congress, and in her pattern of keeping the money in the family, and was caught up in yet another scandal. In June 2007, Citizens for Ethics released a report reporting Brown’s daughter Shantrel Brown-Fields as a congressional lobbyist; the organization maintains that Congressional relatives working as lobbyists for special interests are a conflict of interest for lawmakers. Brown-Fields is employed by Alcalde & Fayte, with clients including ITERA, Miami-Dade County Commission, and Edward Waters college. In 2006, Brown’s campaign committee paid her daughter’s husband, Tyree Fields, $5,500 for political consulting work. Rep. Brown has earmarked millions of dollars in federal funding for her daughter’s client Edward Waters College. This woman is still a United States Congresswoman? YES  she is, thanks to the self-serving politicians who have failed to address her career corruption, and the Florida voters who keep on reelecting her. How does that make any sense today?

Rep. Brown was in the news again this week.  She is being sued by a Democratic fundraising firm for $44,495 dollars in unpaid bills by Berger Hirschberg Strategies. Brown apparently just stopped paying the firm after they raised over half a million dollars for her campaign. Mysteriously, Brown claimed in reports to the Federal Election Comission (FEC) she did pay the firm $15,000 in July–even while admitting in court filings her campaign didn’t pay Berger Hirschberg that month. So now we have a blatant  lie in her reports to the FEC to top it all off here. I hope the good people of Florida are paying attention here, and will remember this information come the 2012 elections. Just in case they don’t, I shall be republishing this article frequently until then. In the meantime, this is another situation that the people need to demand answers for up in D. C. Why hasn’t this woman been kicked out of our Congress?   There are several instance of documented corruption and abuse of office that have already been proven agains Rep Brown.

 When people up in our nation’s capitol start talking about winning back the people’s trust, just take a look at the facts here. You deserve no trust, none whatsoever letting this kind of corruption run rampant in the U. S. Congress. Clear enough?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miami-Area Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty For Role In $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

U.S. Department of Justice

June 30,  2011

WASHINGTON – A Miami-area psychiatrist pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami for his part in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $200 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, the Department of Justice, FBI and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.
Dr. Alan Gumer, 64, of Tamarac, Fla., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.   Gumer was charged on Feb. 15, 2011, with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and four counts of health care fraud.
According to court documents, Gumer was a psychiatrist at American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami.   ATC purported to operate partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.

Gumer admitted that he signed evaluations, notes and other documents in medical files for patients who did not need the treatment for which ATC billed Medicare.   Specifically, as a psychiatrist, Gumer knew that the patients attending ATC did not need intensive mental health treatment, and that the treatments offered by ATC were not the type of intensive treatments a PHP should provide.   Gumer admitted that he signed these files without examining the patients, or writing and reading the statements he was signing.   Gumer also admitted to writing prescriptions for psychiatric medications for patients who did not need them in order to make it appear to Medicare that the patients qualified for PHP treatment.   According to court documents, Gumer also referred hundreds of ATC patients to a related company, the American Sleep Institute (ASI), for unnecessary diagnostic sleep disorder testing.

According to court filings, Gumer’s co-defendants and ATC’s owners and operators paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI.  In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks.  Throughout the course of the ATC and ASI conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries, who did not qualify for PHP services, to attend treatment programs that were not legitimate PHP programs so that ATC and ASI could bill Medicare for more than $200 million in medically unnecessary services.
According to the plea agreement, Gumer’s participation in the fraud resulted in $19.3 million in fraudulent billing to the Medicare program.   Sentencing for Gumer is scheduled for Jan 19, 2012.  Gumer faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
ATC, its management company Medlink Professional Management Group Inc., and the owners and lead manager of ATC, Medlink and ASI, were charged with various health care fraud, money laundering and other offenses in a separate superseding indictment unsealed on Feb. 15, 2011.   Two of the three owners and the lead manager, as well as both ATC and Medlink, have pleaded guilty and have admitted to the fraudulent scheme and that more than $200 million in billings were submitted to the Medicare program as a part of the scheme.   They are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 14, 2011, by U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King.   The trial of the third owner charged in the separate superseding indictment is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, 2011.
The remaining 17 co-defendants named in the indictment in which Gumer was charged are scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 7, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz.

Judge James Lawrence King.
 An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: .

Thursday, November 17, 2011


MOST CORRUPT: REPRESENTATIVE VERN BUCHANAN Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is a three-term member of Congress, representing Florida’s 13th district. His ethics issues stem from (1) pressuring partners and employees tomake contributions to his campaign committee; (2) reimbursing them from his corporate funds;(3) trying to coerce a partner into signing a false affidavit;

(4) improper use of corporateresources for campaign purposes. Rep. Buchanan was included in CREW’s 2008 and 2009congressional corruption reports for related matters.Conduit ContributionsRep. Buchanan owned several car dealerships in Florida when he began his congressionalcampaign in 2005, including Venice Nissan Dodge, Sarasota Ford, and Hyundai of NorthJacksonville (HNJ).1Rep. Buchanan’s former partner in HNJ, Sam Kazran, as well as severalother former employees of Rep. Buchanan’s dealerships, have since alleged Rep. Buchanan anddealership managers pressured them to make contributions to his campaign committee that werelater reimbursed with corporate funds. Mr. Kazran claimed Rep. Buchanan personally instructedhim to engage in the reimbursement scheme at HNJ and another dealership.2 In a sworn deposition to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Mr. Kazran explainedthat in July 2005 - around the time Rep. Buchanan launched hiscampaign for Congress - Rep.Buchanan askedhim to contribute to the Buchanan campaign,3and he contributed the maximumpermitted by law.4Subsequently, Rep. Buchanan pressured Mr. Kazran to raise more money forthe campaign.5When Mr. Kazran said he did not have the money to do so, Rep. Buchananresponded:

“Well,don’t you have somebody at the dealership you can trust? Just run it throughthe corporation.”6Mr. Kazran believed Rep. Buchanan was instructing him “to have someone1Republican Seeks Seat, Bradenton Herald , June 29, 2005; Rep. Vernon G. Buchanan, Personal FinancialDisclosure Statement for January 1, 2004-April 30, 2006, filed May 12, 2006.2Federal Election Commission, Confidential Investigative Deposition of Sam Kazran, November 6, 2009 (KazranDeposition).3 Id., pp. 7-8.4 Id., pp. 11-12;see alsoVern Buchanan for Congress, FEC Form 3, October Quarterly Report, October 14, 2005.5Kazran Deposition, p. 13.6 Id.Mr. Kazran recounted Rep. Buchanan’s instructions to find people he could trust and run their reimbursementsthrough the corporation several times in his deposition.See id., p. 21 (“I instructed [employees] to write a check andreimburse themselves for [it] – because Mr. Buchanan had asked me to get money. And he specifically told me getsomeone you trust and run it though the corporation.”);id., p. 32 (“And he said to me, he says, Get somebody youtrust and get the money out of the corporation.”);id.(“He had asked me to get money, I told him, I said, I thoughtyou said I’m maxed out?

I’ve already given you that money. And he said, Well, just get somebody you trust andrun it through the corporation.”);id., p. 36 (“And when I told him that I don’t have it, he says, Well, get somebodyyou trust and run it through the corporation.”);id., p. 37 (“And I said, You already told me I can’t give any money 
write the check personally and then give them back the money through the corporation.”7Mr.Kazran noted another HNJexecutive, Josh Farid, was with him when Rep. Buchanan discussedthis reimbursement scheme.8Mr. Farid has confirmed Mr. Kazran’s account, recounting thatRep. Buchanan was “talking to [Mr. Kazran] about raising money and the campaigncontributions,” and told him “‘You can get that money reimbursed through the dealership.’”9 Another HNJ employee similarly asserted Rep. Buchanan knew about the contributionreimbursements.10 Mr. Kazran testified further he was “very confident” Rep. Buchanan also told his otherpartners to engage in reimbursement schemes, and personally observed one conversation inwhich Rep. Buchanan did so.11According to Mr. Kazran, at one partnership meeting Rep.Buchanan approached his company’s chief operating officer, Dennis Slater, and told him “Ihaven’t gotten your check yet.”12When Mr. Slater responded he was “hopingto take a pass,”Rep. Buchanan said, “Don’t worry. You know you’re going to get it back.”13 According to the sworn affidavits of two former Venice Nissan Dodge employees,employees of Rep. Buchanan’s Automobile Holdings, Inc. (BAH), including employees of Venice Nissan Dodge and Sarasota Ford,

 were either reimbursed with corporate funds formaking $1,000 contributions to Rep. Buchanan’s 2006 congressional campaign, or were coercedinto making contributions.14Carlo A. Bell, Venice Nissan Dodge’s former finance director, saidthat on September 15, 2005, the dealership’s general manager, Don Caldwell, called him into ameeting with Jack Prater, the Dodge sales manager, and Jason Martin, the Dodge financemanager and Mr. Caldwell’s nephew.15According to Mr. Bell,Mr. Caldwell shut the door to the office and told the three of usthat we needed to contribute to the campaign of Vern Buchanan,who was then running for Congress in Florida’s 13th congressionaldistrict. Mr. Caldwell was holding cash in his hand at the time andsaid that the company would reimburse us for our contributions.He explained that the company would give us $1,000 cash inexchange for our writing $1,000 checks to the campaign.16He says, Don’t you have somebody, like your brother or someone you trust that you can get to write a check for me?. . . Run it through the corporation.”).7Kazran Deposition, p. 14.See also id., p. 37.8 Id., pp. 13, 32.9Virginia Chamlee, More Former Buchanan Employees Speak Out About Pressure To Donate, ReimbursementScheme,Florida Independent , August 5, 2011.10 Id.11Kazran Deposition, p. 14.12 Id., pp. 14-15.13 Id., p. 15.See also id., p. 31.14FEC Complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Carlo Bell and David Padilla,Affidavit of Carlo A. Bell, filed August 19, 2008 (Bell Affidavit); FEC Complaint filed by Citizens forResponsibility and Ethics in Washington, Carlo Bell and David Padilla, Affidavit of David Padilla, filed August 19,2008 (Padilla Affidavit).15Bell Affidavit.

Mr. Bell asked Mr. Caldwell if this was legal, but rather than answering, Mr. Caldwellinstead asked if Mr. Bell was on the team or not.17Afraid hemight lose his job, Mr. Bell repliedyes, he was a part of the team and agreedto write the check.18Mr. Caldwell then handed $1,000to Mr. Bell, Mr. Prater, and Mr. Martin.19Mr. Bell later discussed the meeting with Mr.Prater and Mr. Martin and all agreed it seemed wrong to accept cash to write checks to theBuchanan campaign, but they were “afraid that refusing to do so might endanger [their]employment with Venice Nissan Dodge.”20Mr. Bell subsequently learned two other VeniceNissan Dodge employees, Marvin White and William Mullins, also received $1,000 cashreimbursements when they agreed to write checks to the Buchanan campaign.21 On September 16, 2005, the day after he was given the $1,000 by Mr. Caldwell, Mr.Belldeposited $960 in cash to his bank account, keeping the remaining $40 for spending money.22 On September 16, 2005, Mr. Bell wrote a check to the Buchanan campaign for $1,000.23 Mr. Bell’s account of the reimbursement scheme was confirmed by David J. Padilla, afinance manager at Venice Nissan Dodge in 2005.24In September 2005, Mr. Padilla wasapproached by Brad Combs, another finance manager at Venice Nissan Dodge, who told him“Mr. Buchanan needed campaign contributions andthat anyone who made a contribution wouldget his money back plus additional compensation.”25When Mr. Padilla refused to participate inthe reimbursement scheme,

Mr. Combs told him “that all of the managers were being asked tocontribute andthat many were planning to accept reimbursements in exchange forcontributions.”26Mr. Padilla later discovered several other Venice Nissan Dodge employees,including Mr. Bell, Mr. Prater, and Mr. Martin, had been reimbursed for making contributions toMr. Buchanan’s congressional campaign.27 Separately, Joseph Kezer, the former finance director of Sarasota Ford, described thereimbursement scheme at that dealership. Mr. Kezer said he personally observed campaignfinance violations before Rep. Buchanan’s 2006 general election and that some of the $8 millionspent by the Buchanan campaign in 2006 was “laundered corporate cash funneled throughhigher-ups at Buchanan’s numerous dealerships.”28Mr. Kezer “fielded phone calls from otherdealership executives wanting to know whether company reimbursement checks they had cashedput them in legal peril.”29He said, “After it happened, a couple of [managers] contacted me17 Id.18 Id.19Bell Affidavit.20 Id.21 Id.22 Id.23Bell Affidavit; FEC Complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Carlo Bell andDavid Padilla, Cancelled Check and Deposit Slip, filed August 19, 2008.24Padilla Affidavit.25 Id.26 Id.27 Id.28Matthew Murray, Buchanan Faces Another Lawsuit, Roll Call, June 2, 2008.

because theywere concerned . . . I didn’t know at the time . . . whether it was a good thing or abad thing.”30 Mr. Kezer also alleged he was pressured to make a contribution and that as af urtherreward, Rep. Buchanan offered him the use of his vacation house in Vail, Colorado.31AlthoughMr. Kezer did not want to donate, Mr. Kezer madeacontribution of $2,000 to Rep. Buchanan’scampaign committee because he feared for his job.32Neither Mr. Kezer norMr. Bell everdonated to a political campaign before or after donating to Rep. Buchanan.33 In 2009, another allegation of a conduit contribution to Rep. Buchanan’s campaigncommittee surfaced.34Terry Keith Howell, a registered Democrat, claimed he hadbeenreimbursed for donations he had made unwillingly to Rep. Buchanan’s campaign.35Accordingto a deposition he gave in a lawsuit, Mr. Howell claimed the $8,800 contribution he made toRep. Buchanan and the $10,000 he gave to the Republican Party of Florida were paid by hisbusiness partners, including Timothy Mobley, a Tampa developer and major contributor to Rep.Buchanan.36Mr. Mobley was Mr. Howell’s business partner in a trucking company.

Mr.Howell said, “Tim Mobley told me that Vern Buchanan is somebody good to have on your side,because he was going to be in charge of overseeing the DOT transportation stuff, so the amountof favors he could do for us wasenormous.”37Notably, Mr. Howell was in bankruptcy at thetime he made the contributions.38 On October 17, 2010, Rep. Buchanan’s campaign refunded $5,000incontributions thathad been made by five former employees, including $1,000 from Mr. Bell.39The refunds weremade to the Treasury Department rather than to the donors themselves, the usual protocol forrefunding illegal donations.40The campaign committee publicly disclosed the refunds in aMarch 2011 FEC filing.41Pressure to Sign False AffidavitMr. Kazran testified he had a “great relationship” with Rep. Buchanan until June 2008,when he discovered Rep. Buchanan “had taken some $800-or-so thousand out of the companywithout my consent.”42In September 2008, this and related disputes resulted in litigation30 Id.31Jeremy Wallace and Carol E. Lee, Official Denies Donation Pressure, Herald Tribune, July 29, 2008.32 Id.; Vern Buchanan for Congress, FEC Form 3, October Quarterly Report 2005, October 14, 2005.33CQ MoneyLine, Donor Lookup, Carlo Bell, 1979-Present; CQ MoneyLine, Donor Lookup, Joseph Kezer, 1979-Present.34Susan Taylor Martin, Hard Times, Large Checks,St. Petersburg Times, June 20, 2009.35 Id.36 Id.37 Id.38Martin,St. Petersburg Times, June 20, 2009.39Matthew Doig and Jeremy Wallace, Buchanan Returns Questioned Donations,Sarasota Herald Tribune, June 3,2011.40 Id.41 Id.42Kazran Deposition, p. 34.4[Image] [Image] [Image] (function() { var pageParams = {"origHeight": 1167, "origWidth": 902, "fonts": [2, 4, 0, 3], "pageNum": 4}; // page.uuid : 9lz0fkya2o14rg6t // page.page_request.cdn_path('html') : // page.page_name : 4-f98a1ce146 // 'request_host': genserve pageParams.containerElem = document.getElementById("outer_page_4"); pageParams.contentUrl = ""; var page = docManager.addPage(pageParams); })();

between Rep. Buchanan, Mr. Kazran, and their companies.43According to Mr. Kazran, duringthe course of this dispute Rep. Buchanan agreed to pay Mr. Kazran $2.9 million for the damageto the company caused by the alleged embezzlement and to buy out Mr. Kazran’s share of a Kiadealership they were in the process of buying.44Rep. Buchanan sent Mr. Kazran a “ConfidentialSettlement Communication,” signed by Rep. Buchanan and his company’s chief executiveofficer, John Tosch, laying out the terms of the settlement.45The exact date Rep. Buchanan sentthe settlementcommunication to Mr. Kazran is unclear, but an exhibit attached to it was datedOctober 2008.46 One term of the agreement was that Mr. Kazran would execute an attached affidavitattesting – under penaltyof perjury – that Rep. Buchanan had no involvement in or knowledge of the contribution scheme.47The affidavit provides that during “somewhat hostile” negotiationsbetween Mr. Kazran and Rep. Buchanan’s representatives, Mr. Kazran told one of Rep.Buchanan’s representatives one or more of the dealerships of which Mr. Kazran had operationalcontrol reimbursed individuals for contributions to the Buchanan campaign.48The affidavitstates:5. Before September, 2008 neither I, nor to my knowledge,any other person who had ever advised Buchanan or any of his representatives had any information that one or both of the dealerships [of which Mr. Kazran was the person incharge] reimbursed certain individuals for contributionsmade to the Vernon G. Buchanan for Congress campaign.6. Since my relationship with Buchanan first commenced, Iattended various meetings of other general managers or“partners” of Buchanan who were involved in otherdealerships in which Buchanan, or companies controlled byhim, had a direct or indirect ownership interest. At no timewas there any statement or any form of encouragement tomake a campaign contribution based upon a threat of jobdiscrimination, financial reprisal, or other detriment forfailure to make a contribution discussed, disseminated orsuggested by Buchanan, a Buchanan representative oranyone under his or their direction. Furthermore, therenever was a discussion, statement or other action whichwould have implied that a person who made a contributionto the Vernon G. Buchanan for Congress campaign would43Rep. Buchanan Sues Ex-Partner,Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 26, 2008.