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Many forms of healthcare insurance fraud are federal crimes

Fraud is one of the most common white collar crimes. Professionals who engage in fraud often think of it as a victimless crime. They may assume that insurance will cover any losses or that they are stealing from a corporation, not from people.

The federal government is quick to disabuse people of those misconceptions when it discovers cases of health care fraud. After all, taxpayers are often the ones left covering the bill when providers defraud health care insurance programs.

Former California attorney pleads guilty to wire fraud

A former California attorney who was disbarred in 2017 and is accused of defrauding his clients out of more than $4 million has entered into a plea agreement. The 36-year-old former litigator pleaded guilty to a single count of felony wire fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on June 6 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 12. He faces a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The man admitted to using various deceptive means to convince his clients that he had secured favorable resolutions to their legal problems. Federal prosecutors say that he went as far as providing falsified legal documents, forging checks and disguising his voice during phone calls to keep the scheme going. He is said to have forged a judge's signature on one of the documents. Prosecutors believe the man's illegal activities began in May 2012 and ended with his December 2017 disbarment.

Credit union manager admits to embezzling $40 million

A former CBS Employees Federal Credit Union manager has admitted that he embezzled more than $40 million from his employer over two decades. The 62-year-old man entered his guilty plea to embezzlement charges on May 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He faces the prospect of being sent to prison for up to 30 years when he is sentenced on Sept. 16. He has been held in federal custody since March because U.S. attorneys believe that he is a flight risk and poses an economic threat to the community.

According to court documents, the man stole the money by forging the signatures of credit union members on checks made out to himself or by transferring credit union funds into his personal bank account on the internet. He then falsified credit union records to conceal his activities and make the institution appear profitable. Prosecutors say his embezzlement was the primary reason the National Credit Union Administration determined the Studio City-based institution to be insolvent and ordered its liquidation.

What should defendants know about federal plea deals?

Facing federal criminal charges can be a difficult experience. For many defendants, the thought of having to face a federal prosecutor in a trial is not exactly appealing. People who admit that they did the crimes they are accused of might choose to look into the possibility of a plea deal. This is a defense option that wouldn't require them to go against the prosecutor.

If you didn't commit the crime that led to the charges, you can't have a plea deal in federal court. There is a specific directive that forbids federal prosecutors from being able to accept an Alford plea, which is one in which the person doesn't admit that they are guilty of the charges.

Man could serve 23 years for embezzling millions

A California man pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer over a period of nearly three years. One count of mail fraud and one count of subscribing to a false income tax return will result in a sentence of 23 years in prison along with fines and restitution that could top $1 million.

The illegal activity reportedly began in October of 2015 while the man was employed as controller for a printing business. Checks processed for paying the company's taxes were prepared, signed by the firm's president and sent to the controller to remit to the IRS. However, this controller reportedly placed his personal tax information on the vouchers that accompanied the checks. This resulted in the payments, which varied between $200,000 and $400,000 each, being credited to the controller's personal tax account and refunded by the IRS to his personal bank account.

Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty to embezzlement

Attorney Michael Avenatti has gone from mulling a 2020 presidential bid to being indicted on a raft of charges in both California and New York within the space of a few months. The bombastic litigator became a regular cable news guest when he announced that he was suing President Donald Trump over an alleged affair with the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. However, he was a far more subdued figure on April 29 when he entered pleas of not guilty to multiple counts in a Los Angeles district court.

U.S. attorneys claim that Avenatti used millions of dollars that should've gone to his clients to keep his failing legal practice afloat and fund a lavish lifestyle that featured lavish apartments, exotic automobiles and a private jet. One of his victims is alleged to have been a mentally ill paraplegic man. The 48-year-old attorney faces the possibility of being behind bars for the remainder of his life if he's convicted on all counts.

What federal charges go through the grand jury?

There are differences in the way that criminal matters are handled in the state courts and the federal courts. One is how the charges come about. Federal charges that are considered felonies have to meet strict requirements, so understanding this is beneficial.

Federal criminal charges start with the investigation. The individuals who are looking into the accusations against the defendant have considerable resources available to investigate what happened. Once they have the information they need, the investigators will put it all together and present it to the grand jury.

California woman accused of selling drugs on the darknet

A Sacramento-area registered nurse was charged by federal agents on April 5 with selling thousands of opioid pills on what is known as the darknet. The 46-year-old woman faces narcotics distribution and conspiracy charges.

The darknet is an area of the internet that is designed to be inaccessible to the public. Websites located on the darknet often employ sophisticated encryption protocols to shield them from law enforcement. The woman is accused of using an encrypted website to sell in excess of 20,000 fentanyl and oxycodone pills and patches.

Celebrity lawyer facing federal extortion charges

Lawyer Michael Avenatti is famous to many people in California for his representation of high-profile figures in the entertainment industry. He became nationally known after representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal action against President Donald Trump over payments made to conceal an affair. However, Avenatti is now facing criminal charges after being arrested for allegedly attempting to extort $25 million from sneaker manufacturer Nike. Avenatti publicly tweeted and spoke about the potential to reveal information about Nike's involvement in an alleged high school basketball bribery case.

According to the charges filed by federal prosecutors, Avenatti allegedly attempted to compel Nike to pay him $15 to $25 million in legal fees in order for him to not disclose information that could indicate Nike paid the families of famous high-school basketball players. Prosecutors said that this did not indicate any serious effort to settle a legitimate claim on behalf of a client but was an effort to obtain money for himself through extortion. They presented excerpts from the recordings of the lawyer's calls with Nike lawyers, in which Avenatti allegedly said that his revelations would drive down Nike's stock price and market cap unless the company agreed to pay him the sums he demanded.

Federal defendants must prepare fully for trial

Preparing for a criminal justice trial isn't something that can be done quickly. It takes time to get ready for this ordeal with significant ramifications if not done properly. Going through a trial is a multistep process that you should make sure you understand before you embark upon it.

Each step has special considerations that must be factored into your defense strategy. The majority of your efforts might be placed on the actual trial itself, but don't neglect the other components of your defense.

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