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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Man arrested 32nd time on sex offenses

On Nov. 30, a 59-year-old Florida man was arrested for allegedly touching himself near Delray Beach. It is the 32nd time he has been taken into custody on charges of indecent exposure or lewd acts.

According to police documents, people at the beach reported the defendant to a lifeguard after seeing him make lewd hand motions. They did not actually see his genitalia. By the time officers arrived, the defendant had left the scene. He was later spotted at a nearby park, but he tried to flee on a bike and on foot.

Increased enforcement efforts for opioids, opiates and heroin

Addiction to potentially deadly drugs has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. 2016 is the first year on record where the number of drug overdose deaths exceeded gun fatalities. Although data isn't in for 2017, there's little doubt the death toll will surpass that of 2016. States, communities and even national health organizations keep trying to address this ever-spreading issue with little luck.

Many addicts start off by taking prescribed medication received from a doctor. Others may buy unused or even stolen pills on the unregulated black market. Over time, these people may increase their dosage, frequency of opioid consumption or strength of the drug they use. That could mean moving to heroin or another, stronger drug, like fentanyl.

Sex offender faces human trafficking charges in Florida

Charges have been filed and additional charges are pending in the case of a Florida man who allegedly held two women in a storage locker and forced them to prostitute themselves. According to media sources, the 41-year-old man collected money from the male clients for whom he arranged sexual encounters and then used the money to buy drugs. A registered sex offender, the man was taken into police custody on Nov. 16 following an investigation.

Reports indicate that the women were held against their will in a storage unit located on the 3100 block of 3rd St. W in Bradenton. Law enforcement officials became aware of the situation when a 24-year-old woman left the unit under undisclosed circumstances and showed up at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to file a report.

Florida resident to pay $45 million and serve 80 months

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a Miami business owner will have to repay the federal government $45 million and serve 80 months in jail for her role in a fraudulent Medicare billing scheme. The 59-year-old woman entered a guilty plea and was sentenced in federal court.

The woman reportedly owned two home health care agencies in Miami. She allegedly conspired with others to pay kickbacks to recruiters for referring Medicare recipients to her agencies for home health services. Medicare was then billed for unneeded services, such as physical therapy, diabetes injections and others.

Can you face a marijuana charge because of federal law?

Living in the United States and being a fan of marijuana isn't easy right now. Some states are making the product legal, while others are cracking down on keeping it off the streets. With the legalization of medical marijuana in some places and not in others, the decriminalization of marijuana in some states and not others, and overall changing laws, it's hard to keep track of what you can or can't do.

In Florida, the laws are straightforward. Marijuana is not legal in the state, but as of Jan. 3, 2017, medical marijuana was legalized. Interestingly, no matter what the state decides, it's still against federal law to be in possession of marijuana due to the Controlled Substances Act. In the case that your situation involves both federal and state charges, you could find that the federal government tries to penalize you for marijuana possession even if you have obtained it legally.

Florida human resources director charged with fraud

A Florida woman has been charged with insurance fraud after an investigation determined she knowingly listed an unqualified individual as a dependent on insurance forms. The Walton County Sheriff's Office and Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud conducted the investigation.

According to the sheriff's office, they were notified on Oct. 17 that the Walton County human resources director may have engaged in fraudulent activities. An investigation revealed that the defendant, age 48, had listed an adult man as a dependent on her insurance policy from United Concordia Dental. However, authorities discovered that the man did not qualify as a dependent. A review of the policy found that United had paid out less than $300 in dental claims for the man.

Florida couple pleads guilty to harboring illegal immigrants

A 43-year-old man and 44-year-old woman have pleaded guilty to harboring illegal immigrants in their Jacksonville home, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. The immigrants stayed at the home so they could work at the married couple's Japanese restaurant.

Authorities said that Homeland Security Investigations agents discovered the illegal immigrants when they visited the couple's residence on July 6 regarding an unrelated immigration case. Upon entering the property, the agents found that the home's dining room had been converted into a bedroom with mattresses placed on the floor. The agents then discovered that most of the people living at the home were citizens of Indonesia or Guatemala and living in the U.S. illegally. They further discovered that the immigrants were all employed at the couple's local steakhouse and sushi lounge.

Florida pharmacy owner pleads guilty to fraud scheme

The owner of a Florida pharmacy pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to federal conspiracy charges for his role in a health care fraud scheme. He will be sentenced at a later date.

The 45-year-old defendant, who is the president and owner of A to Z Pharmacy in Port Richey, admitted to using multiple pharmacies and shell companies to oversee a fraudulent compounding prescription medication scheme. The scheme operated from October 2012 until December 2015 and bilked more than $100 million from private insurance companies, Medicare and military insurer TRICARE.

High school teacher accused of sleeping with student

On Nov. 3, a Florida teacher was taken into custody after she was reportedly caught having sex with a student. The 29-year-old high school teacher reportedly also resigned from her position.

She was accused of having a student visit her apartment in Tampa on Nov. 1 where they allegedly had consensual sex. The former teacher then reportedly sent multiple text messages later the same evening admitting to sleeping with a student. Investigators than talked to the student who was allegedly involved and he confirmed that he did sleep with the former teacher.

Health care fraud common in Florida and across the country

Thanks to a large population, including a high number of aging and retired residents, Florida sees a higher than average amount of fraud cases. In fact, as recently as 2015, Florida had the highest rate of fraud risk among all fifty states. Those figures deal with identity theft and similar kinds of interpersonal fraud, but Florida has seen much more organized and complex forms of fraud as well.

Florida also sees a substantial amount of health care fraud. Although many people imagine health care fraud as people getting Medicaid or Medicare benefits they don't deserve, the biggest losses are associated with medical professionals, billing specialists or similar people committing acts of fraud. Florida has been home to some of the biggest health care fraud cases in recent memory.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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