May 2013 Archives

May 29, 2013

Hundreds of Arrests Made During Urban Beach Week

As is the case every year, thousands of vacationers and party goers attend Urban Beach Week. Of the thousands that attend, several hundred will spend one or two days of their vacation behind bars in the Miami-Dade County Jail. The overwhelming police presence and the zero tolerance policy netted 344 arrests on Miami Beach. Anyone arrested over the Memorial Day weekend should contact a Miami criminal lawyer as soon as possible. A qualified attorney will be able to discuss your options when defending a case in this county. In many instances, a case can be defended without requiring the presence of the person arrested. The money spent on airplane tickets and hotel rooms can be better used in the hiring of an attorney to defend the case. The fees for defending a criminal case will largely depend on two factors. The first factor to consider is whether the charges involve misdemeanors or felonies. Second, the complexity of the case will also be considered in determining the legal fees involved in defending the case.

The majority of the arrests during Urban Beach Weekend were for drug offenses, assault, battery and disorderly intoxication. While there are certainly more serious crimes, criminal convictions for minor offenses can cause everlasting consequences. Employment opportunities can be lost and immigration problems can arise if criminal matters, even minor ones are not handled appropriately. Possession of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy are the most common drug offenses for which vacationers get arrested. Simple drug possession cases can be disposed of favorably and quickly with the right representation.

Violent offenses such as aggravated battery, aggravated assault, simple battery, and simple assault are not as easily defended as simple drug crimes. The outcome of these types of cases will be largely determined by injuries suffered by the alleged victim and the victim's willingness to cooperate on te criminal process. Anyone arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor will be required to appear in court at the arraignment. An arraignment is simple court proceeding where the prosecutor formally files the charges. Individuals that have been arrested that fail to appear at the arraignment will have arrests warrants issued for them. However, defendants are not required to appear at the arraignment if they retain counsel. As long as a lawyer files a notice of appearance on a person's behalf, the appearance at the arraignment can be waived.

After the arraignment, the case will be set for trial. The prosecution will be required to produce all police reports, statements provided by witnesses, and any forensic reports. While the case is pending trial, the discovery process will take place. In the State of Florida, Defendants charged with felony offenses are entitled by law to depose the witnesses involved in the case. The purpose of depositions is to learn what a potential witness will testify to during trial. In misdemeanor cases, a defendant must request permission from the court to dispose witnesses involved in the case. A defendant is also entitled to list witnesses that will testify on his or her behalf. Defense witnesses can be very important in cases to refute the testimony of state witnesses whether they are police officers or civilians. If a strong enough defense is presented to the prosecution, they will eventually dismiss the charges.

Urban Beach Week Comes to an End - Very Quietly, Miami Herald.com, May 27, 2013.

May 15, 2013

Dozens Arrested for Medicare Fraud in South Florida

Federal authorities arrested nearly 100 individuals across the country for their involvement in Medicare fraud. Twenty-five arrests were made in South Florida alone. Miami-Dade County is often considered to be the hotbed for healthcare fraud. Miami criminal lawyers have kept busy over the past few years representing clients arrested for Medicare fraud. The highest profile defendant arrested in the most recent sweep was Roberto Marrero, a Cuban born actor and businessman, who is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the federal healthcare program. Both Marrero and his wife were arrested for submitting $20 million in bills to Medicare. The bills were submitted to the program for home health care for diabetic patients. The indictment alleges that the treatments were either not necessary or never provided.

The federal investigation into Medicare fraud netted offenders from Miami to Detroit to
Los Angeles. Those arrested included doctors, nurses and clinic owners and operators. The total amount billed to Medicare by those arrested tallied approximately $223 million. Marrero allegedly began his Medicare scheme to defraud back in 2007. He is accused of using his ill-gotten gains to purchase high-end automobiles and to launch a cable TV station.

The agency responsible for the investigation and the arrests is the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. There are currently 9 regions in the United States under the watchful eye of federal investigators. Each region has its own strike force investigating cases of fraud. The president's administration has vowed to reduce the amount of healthcare fraud perpetrated in the country and claims to have improved the oversight of Medicare billing. The Medicare fraud crackdown has become a priority of the federal government as indicated by the press conference which was attended by the U.S. Attorney General and the Human Health Services Secretary.

Marrero, his wife and several other defendants made their first appearance in federal court on Tuesday. Some of the defendants were represented by privately retained attorneys. Those who cannot afford to hire private counsel will be appointed an attorney from the public defender's office or private counsel registered with the federal court to represent indigent defendants. The government is seeking pre-trial detention on the couple. Both defendants are entitled to a hearing before the magistrate presiding over the case in an effort to obtain a bond. The pre-trial detention hearing is essentially a bond hearing to determine if the defendants are eligible for a bond, an if so, the amount of the bond.

Marrero and his wife are accused owning and operating Trust Care Health Services from 2007 to 2010. The indictment accuses the couple of submitting false bills to Medicare for the treatment of approximately 700 homebound diabetic patients who could not provide insulin to themselves. The charges allege that many of the patients did not require treatment and in some cases treatment was never provided.. It is also alleged that the couple paid recruiters to find patients with Medicare cards. The federal government is trying to locate assets obtained from the illegal enterprise as part of an asset forfeiture action.

Ninety Arrested in South Florida Medicare Crackdown, Bradenton Herald.com, May 15, 2013.

May 6, 2013

Judge Overturns DUI Manslaughter Conviction

A Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge overturned a DUI manslaughter conviction as a result of juror misconduct. In 2012, Jon Goodman, a well-known multi-millionaire, was convicted after a jury trial of DUI manslaughter. The victim in the case, Scott Wilson, was a University of Central Florida graduate that was residing in Palm, Beach County at the time of his death. Roy Black, a well-known Miami criminal defense lawyer, took the lead in the case. Despite a creative defense, his client was convicted of DUI manslaughter.

It is alleged that Goodman left the International Polo Club after consuming numerous alcoholic beverages. After leaving the club, Goodman's Bentley crashed into Wilson's Hyundai, causing the vehicle to enter a drainage canal. Smith ultimately died as a result of drowning. Criminal investigators determined that Goodman's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit of .08 in the State of Florida. Traffic crash re-constructionists determined that Goodman's vehicle ran a stop sign and then crashed into Smith vehicle. Goodman was charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide and assorted other offenses.

At some point after the conviction, the criminal attorneys representing Goodman became aware of juror misconduct. One of the jurors, Dennis DeMartin was involved in at least two instances of misconduct. First, he deliberately failed to disclose during jury selection that his wife had been previously arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Secondly, he conducted a unauthorized alcohol consumption experiment in his own home during the pendency of the jury trial. That was enough for the circuit court judge who presided over the trial to grant Goodman a new trial. Judge Jeffrey Colbath stated, "The cumulative affects of DeMartin's antics transformed an imperfect but fair trial into a constitutionally impermissible proceeding. Every person charged with a crime deserves a fair trial with out the likes of Dennis DeMartin. To allow this conviction to stand...would erode the integrity of the legal system."

The victim's parents are disappointed with the overturning of the conviction, but have vowed to continue the pursuit of justice and prosecute the person allegedly responsible for their son's death. Despite the judge's ruling, prosecutors have a good shot at a second trial if a plea deal is not reached. As a high-profile media case with victim's that are dedicated to the cause, it is highly unlikely that a reasonable plea offer will extended to Goodman. Unless, there is a evidentiary problem with case, a second trial is certainly in the cards.

DUI manslaughter is obviously the most serious criminal traffic offense in the State of Florida. To prove the offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) a defendant was in actual physical control of the motor vehicle, (2) while in control of the vehicle, the defendant was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired or that the blood or breath alcohol level was .08 or more, and (3) the defendant's operation of the vehicle caused or contributed to death of the victim. DUI manslaughter is a second degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison.

Palm Beach Polo Mogul's Conviction Overturned, Huffington Post.com, May 4, 2013.