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Should I cooperate with the Feds in Jacksonville?

Answer:

No, you should not. I wrote about this subject, generally, back in June of 2014, where I discussed the pros and cons of cooperating with prosecutors in order to get a better deal. Based on my recent experience, however, I am now firmly of the opinion, as a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, that cooperation, or informing on your friends and co-defendants in order to get a better deal, is a waste of time and counterproductive in in Jacksonville.

Is it legal for doctors to pay referral fees for patients?

Answer:

No, it is not. Referral fees are illegal and are prosecuted by the federal government as kickbacks, especially if government medical insurance (Medicare and Medicaid) is used. Consider the case of U.S. v. Babaria, decided on December 31, 2014 by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Dr. Babaria, a radiologist, owned a business that provided diagnostic testing, including MRI's, CT scans and ultrasounds. From 2008 through 2011, he paid other physicians to refer their patients to his facility for diagnostic testing. He then billed Medicare and Medicaid for the testing procedures he performed. There was no evidence that he falsified patient records, billed for testing that was not medically necessary or otherwise compromised patient care. In other words, Dr. Babaria did everything right...except he paid the doctors who referred their patients to him referral fees. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I have represented doctors and those involved in the health care field with these types of issues.

How is 'actual loss' calculated in a fraud case in federal court?

Answer:

One would think that in a case involving the theft of money or a financial fraud, the 'actual loss' would be the amount of money taken or stolen, right? It's not. 'Actual loss' is a term of art and it means not just real loss, but intended loss. Why does this matter? Because, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the more the actual loss (or intended loss), the higher the sentence. But what if the actual loss is zero, that is, what if no one lost any money or had any money actually taken from them? As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I have seen cases where prosecutors try to inflate loss figures, even when the real loss is minimal.

Are more government agencies using undercover operations?

Answer:

Yes, they are. In a front page article in "The New York Times", dated November 16, 2014, the federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors and ministers to ferret out wrongdoing. At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover cops dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protesters to look for suspicious activity. At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants, drug dealers or yacht buyers. At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have seen undercover cops used in many different situations.

Can I be prosecuted for just for talking about having sex with a minor over the internet?

Answer:

Yes, you can. The prosecution of those looking to have sex with a minor over the internet has exploded in recent years. These cases are easy to prosecute: police officers pose as underage minors (or the minor's parents) and get people to make incriminating statements. Then, they arrest them; the prison sentences are long. And the entire crime is a complete fiction, since there was no possibility for the minors or those seeking them out to actually meet, because the 'minors' are actually police officers. But how can someone be prosecuted for attempting to commit a crime which could actually never come to pass? As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have seen it happen.

Can my sentence be increased if I testify on my own behalf and am convicted?

Answer:

Unfortunately, in federal court, yes your sentence can be increased. There are many pitfalls to testifying at a criminal trial. The most obvious is that you subject yourself to cross-examination by the prosecutor. If the prosecutor does a good job and makes you look like your not telling the truth or that your version of events just doesn't make sense, you'll probably be convicted. And then, the prosecutor will argue you committed perjury on the witness stand. I have seen this happen as a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. But if your version of events rings true and the prosecutor can't shake you, you'll probably carry the day. Jurors love hearing from the accused, even though they're instructed that if they don't they can't hold it against them.

Can a prosecutor appeal a sentence of probation in federal court?

Answer:

Yes a prosecutor can appeal a sentence of probation in federal court. As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I can say it doesn't often happen, but the case of U.S. v. Hayes, decided by the 11th. Circuit Court of Appeals, on August 12, 2014, is an example of when it can happen and why. Mr. Hayes is a 67 year old businessman who- over a period of four years- doled out over $600,000. in bribes to a state official in order to ensure that his company would continue to receive government contracts. Hayes' company reaped over five million dollars in profits as a result of the corrupt payments. Hayes ran a computer software company. He bribed Roy Johnson, the chancellor of the education department, to have school contracts awarded to Hayes' company for computer software services.

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