Saturday, July 7, 2012

Elder abuse case in Lincoln County exposes pattern of manipulation

Gwendolyn Swank worked her entire life and when her savings account reached a certain amount, she invested in IRAs, mutual funds and the stock market. By the time she reached her 70s, she had more than $300,000 in assets plus a monthly Social Security check to cover living expenses.

She thought she was set for life. Then in 2004, Rodney Chapman came into her life.

Chapman was a longtime neighbor who for the next six years became Swank’s best friend and worst enemy at the same time. By the time Chapman was arrested at her modest mobile home in Pemaquid in 2011 and charged with theft, Swank’s retirement nest egg was gone — all except for 37 cents.

“I had a pretty good portfolio that I thought would take care of me in my old age. It’s gone,” said Swank, who is now 85 years old. “I never, ever thought he’d take me for the ride he did.”

On June 12, Swank was awarded a $1.3 million civil judgment against Chapman in Lincoln County Superior Court. Chapman is serving a five-year sentence for his crimes against Swank, and according to Denis Culley, an attorney for Maine Legal Services for the Elderly who represented Swank in the civil lawsuit, he has little or no ability to pay.

Swank, who spent most of her life working as a financial bookkeeper, is in financial ruins. She is behind on payments to credit card companies for expenses accrued on behalf of Chapman, and owes her landlord and Central Maine Power Co. thousands of dollars. She owes $60,000 in state and federal taxes for money she withdrew from stocks and IRAs and gave to Chapman. At an age when most of her peers are relaxing in retirement, Swank worked for the first part of this year as a bookkeeper for a local business in hopes of paying down some of her debts.

Full Article and Source:
Elder abuse case in Lincoln County exposes pattern of manipulation

Britney Spears Awarded Attorney Fees

Britney Spears just taught a hard lesson to two dudes who have been dogging her -- a judge has ordered them to pay her a fortune in legal fees.

A judge just ordered Britney's ex-manager, Sam Lutfi to pay Britney's estate (she's under a conservatorship) $92,845 in attorneys fees. You may recall, Britney's lawyers got a restraining order against Lutfi who has been like a bad meal that just doesn't go away. Now Lutfi must foot the bill for Britney's hired guns.

Full Article and Source:
Britney Spears

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm Sick of the Gary & Sara Harvey Case - Time to Move On

On December 10, 2010, I wrote, “Wife’s Visitation in Jeopardy: The Recycling of Gary Harvey’s Holiday Restrictions,” which began:

Last year, I wrote the following article:
Wife’s Visitation in Jeopardy: The Isolation of Gary Harvey By Carrie K. Hutchens on November 7th, 2009

Let’s see, the Harvey visitation was in jeopardy in November of 2009, followed by another jeopardy in December of 2010. Then comes September 2011 (or there about), when someone (unbeknownst to Sara) called the police and said that Gary’s life was in danger by some unknown person. Sara didn’t have a thing to do with any of it, but guess who got punished? Sara & Gary. Visits were stopped during the alleged investigation? How convenient to have an excuse and something to blame her for even though it wasn’t her blame to be held responsible for.

It quickly (or should have) became obvious that Sara didn’t have anything to do with the call, but that didn’t matter. It must somehow be her fault and even if it wasn’t — it was a good excuse to put a camera in Gary’s room. So now, we have a camera and a guard. When will they dress Sara up as Hannibal Lector for her visits? That’s what many of us wonder.

The road has indeed been bumpy since the phone call incident, but it has recently gotten even worse.

Sara apparently submitted a report alleging neglect (regarding a visible wound/sore on her husband) sometime around May 31, 2012. She was immediately accused of breaking the visitation and privacy rules (whistle-blowing?). Would any be surprised to learn that the already cruel visitation restriction has been replaced by ABSOLUTELY NO VISITATION allowed by Sara Harvey?

I wasn’t surprised either.

Sara pays for the insurance that pays the hospital. The hospital sure doesn’t have any trouble billing that insurance that she pays for. She’s certainly good enough to pay the premiums, but I guess that’s all she is good for. Beyond the premium paying, she apparently doesn’t count for anything in their book, it would seem. She certainly isn’t treated as though she is Gary’s wife. There certainly isn’t any compassion. I mean, how dare she worry about Gary or ask questions or try to make sure he gets the quality care her insurance is paying for? How dare she wish to visit Gary? Just who does she think she is? His wife or something?

I went to the St. Joseph Hospital website and read their mission statement, which says in part:

St. Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic health facility, is a voluntary not-for-profit community general hospital founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester in cooperation with the physicians and citizens of Elmira, NY. The St. Joseph’s Hospital community, by maintaining a deep respect for the dignity of each person, strives to heal, as Jesus did, in mind, body and spirit, all who come to us.
Oh really?

Full Article and Source:
I'm Sick of the Gary and Sara Harvey Case - Time to Move On

Elder-abuse prevention program could end in Watsonville, Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ — When a parent or grandparent cannot manage their assets, setting up a conservatorship can be a daunting task. Navigating the legal system and paying attorney's fees can leave many families out of luck.

For hundreds of residents of Santa Cruz and San Benito counties in the past five years, free help could be found at the Conservatorship and Elder Abuse Prevention Program at Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Yet its funding could dry up at the end of this year.

The program had been funded in the past five years by a grant from the California State Bar Association, said Terry Hancock, directing attorney at the Senior Citizens Legal Center that runs the program. The grant was $54,000 in 2011 and $40,000 in 2012.
The grant money was expected to taper off in five years as leaders found new funding sources to sustain it. But those sources never materialized.

"The idea is access to justice," said Darcee Olson, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Senior Citizens Legal Services that runs the program. "It's a phenomenal program, and there's a big need for it."

Full Article and Source:
Elder-abuse prevention program could end in Watsonville, Santa Cruz

Canton votes for assisted suicide

Churches in the Swiss canton of Vaud have condemned a move that will permit assisted suicide in nursing homes and hospitals in the canton.

On 17 June, almost two-thirds of voters (62 per cent) in the canton voted in a legally binding referendum in favour of a proposal that would oblige nursing homes and hospitals to allow assisted suicide, provided the person who wishes it is suffering from an incurable illness or injury and is of sound mind.

Local Bishop Charles Morerod of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, said the consequences of the decision were "terrible".

The referendum was held as the Congress of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies met in Zurich, where speakers included author and Alzheimer's sufferer Terry Pratchett.

Full Article and Source:
Canton votes for assisted suicide

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Two former San Mateo County employees arrested on charges of stealing from the estates of deceased residents

FBI agents arrested two former San Mateo County employees Friday on suspicion of stealing from the estates of deceased county residents they were responsible for administering, the federal law enforcement agency announced.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes Mandy Natchi Yagi, 54, of San Mateo, and Peter Wong, 43, of Daly City, stole money, jewelry and other valuables, according to the indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and unsealed Friday after their arrest.

The two have been charged with conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program and theft concerning a federally funded program. Yagi and Wong appeared in federal court Friday morning and are scheduled to appear on June 27 for identification of counsel.

Public administrators are charged with investigating and administering the estates of county residents who die without a will or a person willing to act as the estate administrator.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Adrienne Tissier said she was "shocked" to hear about the thefts.

"To have something like this happen to families whose heirs are waiting on information from the county is very difficult," she said.

Since a federal investgation is still under way, Tissier said the county still doesn't know if the scope of thefts is limited to the two former employees.

Full Article and Source:
Two former San Mateo County employees arrested on charges of stealing from the estates of deceased residents

See Also:
Free Silvia Klaiber

Public Guardian of San Mateo,The Case of John Donovan - Nevada


Measure Helps Deter Stealing From Senior Citizens or People With Physical or Mental Disabilities

Albany- State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) today is announcing that he has voted to support legislation, approved by the New York State Senate, that responds to the need for increased protection against financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults by passing legislation to make such actions a crime. The legislation, S 6712, gives district attorneys and police the tools they need to prosecute instances of financial exploitation of vulnerable elderly or people with physical or mental disabilities.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “We hear of scams targeting the elderly and disabled all too often and we must fight against those who prey on them. This legislation will give district attorneys and local law enforcement the necessary powers to protect New York's most vulnerable against this form of abuse. Twenty-nine other states have enacted statutes specifically designed to protect senior citizens against financial abuse and I applaud my Senate colleagues for taking the first step towards ensuring that New York does the same.”

Financial exploitation of the elderly or those who have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from caring for themselves is a pervasive and often unseen form of abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines elder financial exploitation as “the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property or assets.” Such instances of exploitation can include credit card fraud, real estate scams, identity theft and burglary, which are also notoriously difficult to combat. Even when reported to local authorities, antiquated criminal statutes make it difficult to prosecute these offenses.

The bill establishes exploitation of a vulnerable elderly, incompetent, or disabled person as a form of larceny. It also requires adult protective services officials to report all instances of suspected exploitation to their district attorney's office.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Full Article and Source:

Third worker accused in swindle of woman, 99

A third home health worker has been arrested in connection with the alleged theft of more than $400,000 from a now 99-year-old woman.

Fort Lauderdale Police Thursday said that Tashua Edwards, 34, surrendered to authorities and was charged with grand theft on a person 65 or older and exploitation of the elderly.

Full Article and Source:
Third worker accused in swindle of woman, 99

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

FBI: GlaxoSmithKline to Plead Guilty and Pay $3 Billion to Resolve Fraud Allegations and Failure to Report Safety Data

The FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Boston Division

GlaxoSmithKline to Plead Guilty and Pay $3 Billion to Resolve Fraud Allegations and Failure to Report Safety Data

Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in U.S. History

U.S. Department of Justice
July 02, 2012 Office of Public Affairs
(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

Breaking News, Financial, Fraud, Health Care Fraud, Press Release

WASHINGTON—Global health care giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) agreed to plead guilty and to pay $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices, the Justice Department announced today. The resolution is the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history and the largest payment ever by a drug company.

GSK agreed to plead guilty to a three-count criminal information, including two counts of introducing misbranded drugs, Paxil and Wellbutrin, into interstate commerce; and one count of failing to report safety data about the drug Avandia to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under the terms of the plea agreement, GSK will pay a total of $1 billion, including a criminal fine of $956,814,400 and forfeiture in the amount of $43,185,600. The criminal plea agreement also includes certain non-monetary compliance commitments and certifications by GSK’s U.S. president and board of directors. GSK’s guilty plea and sentence is not final until accepted by the U.S. District Court.

GSK will also pay $2 billion to resolve its civil liabilities with the federal government under the False Claims Act, as well as the states. The civil settlement resolves claims relating to Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia, as well as additional drugs, and also resolves pricing fraud allegations.

“Today’s multi-billion-dollar settlement is unprecedented in both size and scope. It underscores the administration’s firm commitment to protecting the American people and holding accountable those who commit health care fraud,” said James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General. “At every level, we are determined to stop practices that jeopardize patients’ health, harm taxpayers, and violate the public trust—and this historic action is a clear warning to any company that chooses to break the law.”

“Today’s historic settlement is a major milestone in our efforts to stamp out health care fraud,” said Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “For a long time, our health care system had been a target for cheaters who thought they could make an easy profit at the expense of public safety, taxpayers, and the millions of Americans who depend on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. But thanks to strong enforcement actions like those we have announced today, that equation is rapidly changing.”

This resolution marks the culmination of an extensive investigation by special agents from HHS-OIG, FDA, and FBI, along with law enforcement partners across the federal government. Moving forward, GSK will be subject to stringent requirements under its corporate integrity agreement with HHS-OIG; this agreement is designed to increase accountability and transparency and prevent future fraud and abuse. Effective law enforcement partnerships and fraud prevention are hallmarks of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which fosters government collaboration to fight fraud.

Criminal Plea Agreement

Under the provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a company in its application to the FDA must specify each intended use of a drug. After the FDA approves the product as safe and effective for a specified use, a company’s promotional activities must be limited to the intended uses that FDA approved. In fact, promotion by the manufacturer for other uses—known as “off-label uses”—renders the product “misbranded.”

Paxil: In the criminal information, the government alleges that, from April 1998 to August 2003, GSK unlawfully promoted Paxil for treating depression in patients under age 18, even though the FDA has never approved it for pediatric use. The United States alleges that, among other things, GSK participated in preparing, publishing, and distributing a misleading medical journal article that misreported that a clinical trial of Paxil demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of depression in patients under age 18, when the study failed to demonstrate efficacy. At the same time, the United States alleges, GSK did not make available data from two other studies in which Paxil also failed to demonstrate efficacy in treating depression in patients under 18. The United States further alleges that GSK sponsored dinner programs, lunch programs, spa programs and similar activities to promote the use of Paxil in children and adolescents. GSK paid a speaker to talk to an audience of doctors and paid for the meal or spa treatment for the doctors who attended. Since 2004, Paxil, like other antidepressants, included on its label a “black box warning” stating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in patients under age 18. GSK agreed to plead guilty to misbranding Paxil in that its labeling was false and misleading regarding the use of Paxil for patients under 18.

Wellbutrin: The United States also alleges that, from January 1999 to December 2003, GSK promoted Wellbutrin, approved at that time only for major depressive disorder, for weight loss, the treatment of sexual dysfunction, substance addictions, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, among other off-label uses. The United States contends that GSK paid millions of dollars to doctors to speak at and attend meetings, sometimes at lavish resorts, at which the off-label uses of Wellbutrin were routinely promoted and also used sales representatives, sham advisory boards, and supposedly independent Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs to promote Wllbutrin for these unapproved uses. GSK has agreed to plead guilty to misbranding Wellbutrin in that its labeling did not bear adequate directions for these off-label uses.

For the Paxil and Wellbutrin misbranding offenses, GSK has agreed to pay a criminal fine and forfeiture of $757,387,200.

Avandia: The United States alleges that, between 2001 and 2007, GSK failed to include certain safety data about Avandia, a diabetes drug, in reports to the FDA that are meant to allow the FDA to determine if a drug continues to be safe for its approved indications and to spot drug safety trends. The missing information included data regarding certain post-marketing studies, as well as data regarding two studies undertaken in response to European regulators’ concerns about the cardiovascular safety of Avandia. Since 2007, the FDA has added two black box warnings to the Avandia label to alert physicians about the potential increased risk of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction (heart attack). GSK has agreed to plead guilty to failing to report data to the FDA and has agreed to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $242,612,800 for its unlawful conduct concerning Avandia.

“This case demonstrates our continuing commitment to ensuring that the messages provided by drug manufacturers to physicians and patients are true and accurate and that decisions as to what drugs are prescribed to sick patients are based on best medical judgments, not false and misleading claims or improper financial inducements,” said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

“Patients rely on their physicians to prescribe the drugs they need,” said John Walsh, U.S. Attorney for Colorado. “The pharmaceutical industries’ drive for profits can distort the information provided to physicians concerning drugs. This case will help to ensure that your physician will make prescribing decisions based on good science and not on misinformation, money, or favors provided by the pharmaceutical industry.”

Civil Settlement Agreement

As part of this global resolution, GSK has agreed to resolve its civil liability for the following alleged conduct: (1) promoting the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin, Advair, Lamictal, and Zofran for off-label, non-covered uses and paying kickbacks to physicians to prescribe those drugs as well as the drugs Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent, and Valtrex; (2) making false and misleading statements concerning the safety of Avandia; and (3) reporting false best prices and underpaying rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.

Off-Label Promotion and Kickbacks: The civil settlement resolves claims set forth in a complaint filed by the United States alleging that, in addition to promoting the drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin for unapproved, non-covered uses, GSK also promoted its asthma drug, Advair, for first-line therapy for mild asthma patients even though it was not approved or medically appropriate under these circumstances. GSK also promoted Advair for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with misleading claims as to the relevant treatment guidelines. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that GSK promoted Lamictal, an anti-epileptic medication, for off-label, non-covered psychiatric uses, neuropathic pain, and pain management. It further resolves allegations that GSK promoted certain forms of Zofran, approved only for post-operative nausea, for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnant women. It also includes allegations that GSK paid kickbacks to health care professionals to induce them to promote and prescribe these drugs as well as the drugs Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent, and Valtrex. The United States alleges that this conduct caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs.

GSK has agreed to pay $1.043 billion relating to false claims arising from this alleged conduct. The federal share of this settlement is $832 million and the state share is $210 million.

This off-label civil settlement resolves four lawsuits pending in federal court in the District of Massachusetts under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery.

Avandia: In its civil settlement agreement, the United States alleges that GSK promoted Avandia to physicians and other health care providers with false and misleading representations about Avandia’s safety profile, causing false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs. Specifically, the United States alleges that GSK stated that Avandia had a positive cholesterol profile despite having no well-controlled studies to support that message. The United States also alleges that the company sponsored programs suggesting cardiovascular benefits from Avandia therapy despite warnings on the FDA-approved label regarding cardiovascular risks. GSK has agreed to pay $657 million relating to false claims arising from misrepresentations about Avandia. The federal share of this settlement is $508 million and the state share is $149 million.

Price Reporting: GSK is also resolving allegations that, between 1994 and 2003, GSK and its corporate predecessors reported false drug prices, which resulted in GSK’s underpaying rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. By law, GSK was required to report the lowest, or “best” price that it charged its customers and to pay quarterly rebates to the states based on those reported prices. When drugs are sold to purchasers in contingent arrangements known as “bundles,” the discounts offered for the bundled drugs must be reallocated across all products in the bundle proportionate to the dollar value of the units sold. The United States alleges that GSK had bundled sales arrangements that included steep discounts known as “nominal” pricing and yet failed to take such contingent arrangements into account when calculating and reporting its best prices to the Department of Health and Human Services. Had it done so, the effective prices on certain drugs would have been different, and, in some instances, triggered a new, lower best price than what GSK reported. As a result, GSK underpaid rebates due to Medicaid and overcharged certain Public Health Service entities for its drugs, the United States contends. GSK has agreed to pay $300 million to resolve these allegations, including $160,972,069 to the federal government, $118,792,931 to the states, and $20,235,000 to certain Public Health Service entities who paid inflated prices for the drugs at issue.

Except to the extent that GSK has agreed to plead guilty to the three-count criminal information, the claims settled by these agreements are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

“This landmark settlement demonstrates the department’s commitment to protecting the American public against illegal conduct and fraud by pharmaceutical companies,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Doctors need truthful, fair, balanced information when deciding whether the benefits of a drug outweigh its safety risks. By the same token, the FDA needs all necessary safety-related information to identify safety trends and to determine whether a drug is safe and effective. Unlawful promotion of drugs for unapproved uses and failing to report adverse drug experiences to the FDA can tip the balance of those important decisions, and the Justice Department will not tolerate attempts by those who seek to corrupt our health care system in this way.”

Non-Monetary Provisions and Corporate Integrity Agreement

In addition to the criminal and civil resolutions, GSK has executed a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The plea agreement and CIA include novel provisions that require that GSK implement and/or maintain major changes to the way it does business, including changing the way its sales force is compensated to remove compensation based on sales goals for territories, one of the driving forces behind much of the conduct at issue in this matter. Under the CIA, GSK is required to change its executive compensation program to permit the company to recoup annual bonuses and long-term incentives from covered executives if they, or their subordinates, engage in significant misconduct. GSK may recoup funds from executives who are current employees and those who have left the company. Among other things, the CIA also requires GSK to implement and maintain transparency in its research practices and publication policies and to follow specified policies in its contracts with various health care payors.

“Our five-year integrity agreement with GlaxoSmithKline requires individual accountability of its board and executives,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “For example, company executives may have to forfeit annual bonuses if they or their subordinates engage in significant misconduct, and sales agents are now being paid based on quality of service rather than sales targets.”

“The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations will aggressively pursue pharmaceutical companies that choose to put profits before the public’s health,” said Deborah M. Autor, Esq., Deputy Commissioner for Global Regulatory Operations and Policy, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We will continue to work with the Justice Department and our law enforcement counterparts to target companies that disregard the protections of the drug approval process by promoting drugs for uses when they have not been proven to be safe and effective for those uses and that fail to report required drug safety information to the FDA.”

“The record settlement obtained by the multi-agency investigative team shows not only the importance of working with our partners but also the importance of the public providing their knowledge of suspect schemes to the government,” said Kevin Perkins, Acting Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “Together, we will continue to bring to justice those engaged in illegal schemes that threaten the safety of prescription drugs and other critical elements of our nation’s healthcare system.”

“Federal employees deserve health care providers and suppliers, including drug manufacturers, that meet the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior,” said Patrick E. McFarland, Inspector General of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. “Today’s settlement reminds the pharmaceutical industry that they must observe those standards and reflects the commitment of federal law enforcement organizations to pursue improper and illegal conduct that places health care consumers at risk.”

“Today’s announcement illustrates the efforts of VA-OIG and its law enforcement partners in ensuring the integrity of the medical care provided our nation’s veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said George J. Opfer, Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The monetary recoveries realized by VA in this settlement will directly benefit VA healthcare programs that provide for veterans’ continued care.”

“This settlement sends a clear message that taking advantage of federal health care programs has substantial consequences for those who try,” said Rafael A. Medina, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Area Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service. “The U.S. Postal Service pays more than one billion dollars a year in workers’ compensation benefits and our office is committed to pursuing those individuals or entities whose fraudulent acts continue to unfairly add to that cost.”

A Multilateral Effort

The criminal case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch. The civil settlement was reached by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, and the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch. Assistance was provided by the HHS Office of Counsel to the Inspector General, Office of the General Counsel-CMS Division, and FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel, as well as the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

This matter was investigated by agents from the HHS-OIG; the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service of the Department of Defense; the Office of the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Labor; TRICARE Program Integrity; the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service; and the FBI.

This resolution is part of the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and another step for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS. The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation. Over the last three years, the department has recovered a total of more than $10.2 billion in settlements, judgments, fines, restitution, and forfeiture in health care fraud matters pursued under the False Claims Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Court documents related to today’s settlement can be viewed online at

Full Article and Source:
FBI: GlaxoSmithKline to Plead Guilty and Pay $3 Billion to Resolve Fraud Allegations and Failure to Report Safety Data

See Also:
Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline to pay $35 million to Massachusetts Medicaid ...

Florida to receive $56 million in GlaxoSmithKline Medicaid fraud settlement

Ohio to get $40 million from health-care fraud settlement

Monday, July 2, 2012

CRIME: Illegal elder-care facility operator sentenced for theft

A registered nurse who pleaded guilty to illegally running Escondido board-and-care homes for the elderly was sentenced Wednesday to 130 days in jail and three years of probation.

Nancy Totanes, 60, was banned for life in 2000 from operating group homes for the elderly, but took over a dead relative's group home in June 2010, said Deputy Attorney General Erin Minelli, who prosecuted the case.

When state inspectors found out that Totanes was running Gamble Lane Residential Care Facility in January 2011, they ordered her to shut it down and arrange to have the residents moved to another home.

She moved some of her disabled residents to her sister-in-law's care facility in Oceanside but didn't tell the residents' families and continued to collect the families' rent checks, Minelli said.

During this time, resident Francesca Mangiarcina, 89, died before her daughter could find her to say goodbye, Minelli said.

Totanes also allegedly hit and threatened to shoot a state inspector who visited Gamble Lane to perform a follow-up investigation a few weeks later, Minelli said. Charges related to the alleged assault were later dropped.

Totanes paid $4,571 in restitution to the families of two victims and pleaded guilty to theft and making a fictitious check, which were reduced to misdemeanor charges as part of a plea agreement.

Before San Diego County Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz sentenced Totanes, Mangiarcina's daughter, Brooke Mark of Encinitas, read a statement to the court.

She described her mother as a warm and giving woman who came to the United States from Sicily and became deeply involved in the fight for civil rights in the 1950s and women's rights in the '60s. Mangiarcina doted on her children until the end, Mark said.

"On one of my last visits to see Mom, I sat next to her squirming in the chair, and she said, 'Brooke, is your back bothering you?'"

Mark said she answered yes.

"Sit a little closer, Brooke," she recalled her mother saying. "I'll rub it for you."

"That," Mark said, "was my mom."

From within a glass cage at the side of the courtroom, Totanes tried to offer an apology.

"I want to say I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean any ---- I just took good care of their mom the best I can."

Judge Katz fired back, raising his voice.

"No, you didn't," he said. "You ripped her off. Her family members wouldn't be here crying because of what you did. ...

"She was a paycheck for you. And you should never take care of anyone else, so no one else can be victimized by your greed and inappropriate behavior."

Katz then rejected the defense attorney's request to spare Totanes further jail time.

"Quite frankly," Katz said, "I don't think it's enough time."

Full Article and Source:
CRIME: Illegal elder-care facility operator sentenced for theft

Smithfield dad battles WakeMed over son's guardianship

Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh hospital has asked a Wake County judge to appoint a guardian for a Johnston County teenager receiving care for a severe brain injury after his medical insurance lapsed.

The teen's father, however, says, he is fighting for the right to take care of his son.

Fred Lempe, of Smithfield, says his 18-year-old son, Freddie, was months away from graduating from Smithfield-Selma High School in March 2011 when he was injured in a car crash.

His father's Medicaid initially paid the younger Lempe's bills, but he was dropped in December when he turned 18.

Fred Lempe says he was told that he would need to reapply. He says he's been trying to secure coverage again.

"We hope that we can get everything resolved and do the right thing for Freddie," Fred Lampe said.

In the meantime, however, WakeMed wants the court to appoint a legal guardian for Freddie.

Fred Lempe's attorney, Marcia Stewart, says that scares her client, because the guardian would be legally authorized to make all medical decisions for Freddie.

Stewart says her client has complied with everything that has been asked of him to get the Medicaid benefits reinstated.

"I think it is a drastic measure. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," Stewart said. "It's absolutely heartbreaking and absolutely shameful, if you had any idea what this man has done for his son day and night for 14 months."

WakeMed released a statement Tuesday, saying that the move "has nothing to do with the care that Freddie has received and will continue to receive regardless of the judge's decision."

"We are simply taking steps to secure financial resources for Freddie through Medicaid, which should be available to him for his care," the hospital said.

Full Article and Source:
Smithfield dad battles WakeMed over son's guardianship

95-year-old gets belongings back from Sun Grove Resort Village

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ann Graham, 95, is unpacking, and back at the place she says she never should have left.

Not long ago, Graham moved into a living facility that goes by the names Sun Grove Senior Living and Sun Grove Resort Village after getting a mailer advertising three months of free rent.

Graham said she was also promised she'd get the assistance she requires.

“So, it was a huge apartment for the same money so I took it!” she said.

Graham paid Sun Grove $1,600 upfront. However, after moving in, she said the assistance was less than what she was expecting.

She said if she had known that in advance, she never would have moved to Sun Grove.

“They didn't have to fib to me,” she said.

Within 24 hours of being at Sun Grove, Graham moved out and went back to her old living facility.

But, when it came to getting all of her belongings, she claims Sun Grove locked her out of her old apartment and held her stuff hostage.

Full Article and Source:
95-year-old gets belongings back from Sun Grove Resort Village

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Some Vets Money Managed - and Stolen by Scoundrels

They survived the Nazis, the Viet Cong and the Taliban. But hundreds of mentally disabled veterans suffered new wounds when the country they served put their checkbooks in the hands of scoundrels.

Gambling addicts, psychiatric cases and convicted criminals are among the thieves who have been handed control of disabled veterans' finances by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers investigation has found.

For decades, theft and fraud have plagued the fiduciary program, in which the VA appoints a family member or a stranger to manage money for veterans the government considers incapacitated. The magnitude and pace of those thefts has increased, despite VA promises of reform. Three of the largest scams - ranging from about $900,000 to $2 million - each persisted 10 years or more before being discovered.

In the past six years, the VA has removed 467 fiduciaries for misuse of funds, but only a fraction have faced criminal charges, according to the VA's Office of the Inspector General.

The government has never adequately tracked fiduciaries' thefts from disabled veterans. The inspector general's office says it conducted 315 fiduciary fraud investigations from October 1998 to March 2010, resulting in 132 arrests for thefts amounting to $7.4 million. But a Chronicle analysis of court records and documents obtained though the Freedom of Information Act show the thieves took more $14.7 million since 1998 - nearly twice the amounts reported to Congress.

VA spokesman Joshua Taylor says the program is being reorganized, and improvements are being ordered every year.

"VA has taken significant efforts to protect veterans and other beneficiaries in its fiduciary program," Taylor declared.

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Some Vets Money Managed - and Stolen - by Scoundrels

'Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs'

For many people, their pets are members of the family that need to be taken care of if the pet owner dies before the pet. Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs explains how to include a pet in an estate plan.

Billionaire hotel operator Leona Helmsley famously left $12 million in trust for her dog when she died. While the average pet owner doesn't have that much to leave, many do want to make sure their pets are provided for after they die. Written by two attorneys (one of whom is also a professor of law and a renowned expert on estate planning for pet owners), Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs details the various ways that pet owners can ensure their wishes regarding their pets are carried out.

The book explains that plans can range from informal, in which the pet owner asks a friend to care for the animal, to formal, in which a trust is formed to ensure the pet's care. Some states allow pet owners to establish "pet trusts," which are designed specifically for taking care of pets. The book also explains how to protect pets in a disaster or emergency, how to choose a caregiver, and how to determine the amount of money your pet will need, among other topics.

Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs has several appendices that are filled with useful resources for pet owners, including sample wording for wills and listings of after-death services and pet cemeteries. Peppered with facts about pets and funny quotes, Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs is a welcome publication for the nation's pets and a good, information-packed read for their human companions.

Elder Law Answers: Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs