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July 2013 Archives

Court upholds federal drug conspiracy conviction for khat sales

The mildly stimulant leaves of an east African plant called khat was the subject of a 2009 federal drug trafficking prosecution in Indianapolis, when a U.S. immigrant from Somalia was found distributing it to customers of his coffee shop. Khat, which produces a stimulant effect when chewed or brewed into tea, is completely legal in Somalia, where people use it at about the same frequency as Americans use coffee or tobacco.

More than 2,000 convictions for federal crimes now under review

The U.S. Department of Justice has just announced that it will be reviewing the validity of more than 2,000 convictions for federal crimes handed down between 1984 and 2000. Based on evidence provided by the Innocence Project and other criminal defense groups, a number of the convictions may have involved misleading testimony by FBI laboratory examiners. The cases to be reviewed include 27 death penalty convictions.

Federal guidelines in flux; high insider trade sentences noticed

Over the past few years, criminal defense attorneys, civil rights activists and even federal judges have begun openly criticizing the structure of, and the often-harsh sentences resulting from, the federal sentencing guidelines. In the latest of a recent series, the 7th Circuit court of appeals refused to penalize street-level members of a drug trafficking conspiracy to the guideline sentence, which would have given them the same harsh sentence as the leaders. In a March speech before white collar criminal defense attorneys, federal judge Jed S. Rakoff called again for the government to scrap the sentencing guidelines, which he described as irrational and even dangerous.

Brooksville psychiatrist exonerated of 148 Medicare fraud charges

Kesmond Wilson has spent the last two years under the threat of criminal prosecution. He was arrested in late 2011 on 148 counts of suspected Medicare fraud and, when reporters discovered he had a criminal record, he was vilified in the press. He was expected to face trial next Monday.

Federal Florida jury finds four guilty in Medicare fraud case

A Florida federal jury recently found four defendants accused of a lucrative Medicare fraud scheme guilty of various fraud crimes and related charges, including wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and health care fraud and conspiracy to pay bribes in connection with Medicare.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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“Mark, thank you for everything. I will forever be indebted to you. You have stood by me and believed in me when it was not the popular thing to do. You are an amazing advocate.” Adam Filthaut
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