Prominent defense lawyer faces US charges

May 29, 2012

The Boston Globe on May 29, 2012 released the following:

“Robert A. George goes on trial today on charges of conspiring to launder money

By Milton J. Valencia

In a recent trial in federal court in Boston, well-known lawyer Robert A. George stood before a jury for his closing arguments, and spoke directly.

“When you’re innocent, you have a right to stand up and say something,’’ he declared in defense of his client, a Dorchester nurse and a mother of five charged with distributing prescription drugs.

But George might well have been speaking for himself – because he, too, is about to stand trial.

The 57-year-old father of three is accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to help a former client launder drug money, and of restructuring bank deposits in violation of tax laws. Jury selection is slated for Tuesday. The case is a fight for his career and his livelihood.

The arrest of George in March 2011 caused a stir in the legal community, and defense lawyers descended on the Moakley courthouse to show their support.

In the year since FBI agents first swarmed his home, George, known for his testy exchanges with prosecutors, has represented clients just as aggressively as he did years ago when he defended Mafia figures and, later, the trash collector who maintains he was wrongly convicted of murdering Cape Cod fashion writer Christa Worthington.

George has also fought for a new trial for a former Stoughton police chief after finding information about one of the jurors that could have excluded her from serving on the panel in that extortion case. That request is pending in state court.

He has been working on his own case with two of the state’s better known defense lawyers, Robert M. Goldstein and Kevin R. Reddington. With them, he has filed repeated motions.

George has accused prosecutors of retaliating against him, being vindictive because of his defense of a man accused of plotting to kill a federal prosecutor several years ago. He has questioned the propriety of the government’s use of a confidential informant in his case, a man with a lengthy criminal history.

George and his lawyers are even attempting to include US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz on his witness list.

“He has been laser focused on his clients’ cases, as well as his own,’’ said Thomas Shamshak, a former police chief in Spencer and Winthrop and a Somerville lieutenant who founded his own private investigative firm. He has worked with George on several cases, including this one. “He is a ferocious advocate unlike anyone I have ever worked for.’’

Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who has represented high-profile clients in federal court and who won the acquittal of a lawyer in a racketeering case several years ago in Florida, said the case also demonstrates the quintessential challenge for any lawyer: representing another criminal defense lawyer and the symbolism that comes with it.

“There’s always that added context, that you’re representing the lifestyle,’’ said Weinberg. “You’re representing everything he is.’’

Lawyers in Massachusetts can lose their law license if they are convicted of a felony, but nothing prevents them from carrying out their practice until their case has concluded.

Court rules require only that a lawyer notify his or her clients of the pending charges. A lawyer would have to notify the state Office of Bar Counsel if convicted.

George, who has lived on Cape Cod and the suburbs west of Boston, faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of trying to help a former client launder his drug-dealing profits for a fee, by referring him to a mortgage broker who would help him.

The former client, Ronald Dardinski, was cooperating with authorities, and George alleges he was targeted by authorities because he represented a man who in 2007 plotted to kill prosecutor Jack Pirozzolo.

Prosecutors rejected that allegation, and US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton refused to dismiss the case or to hold an evidentiary hearing, saying there was no evidence of retaliation. Prosecutors say they have audio recordings of George setting up the money-laundering scheme.

Rosemary Scapicchio, a friend of George’s, represented him at his initial hearing, before he could hire Reddington, and she lashed out at prosecutors for “investigating a criminal defense attorney who is out there protecting people’s rights. This is outrageous.’’

It is not the first time a defense lawyer has been a defendant in federal court in Boston. Last January, for instance, Gorton admonished attorney Lawrence M. Perlmutter before sentencing him to 5 1/2 years for laundering drug profits for his clients.

“You have disgraced not only yourself, but the rest of us who hold our profession in the highest esteem, and for what?’’ Gorton hissed. He is the same judge in George’s case.

George and his lawyers would not comment for this article.

One of George’s last appearances in a federal courtroom was May 9, for the sentencing of Gladys Ihenacho, the Dorchester nurse and wife of a pharmacist. Her husband, Baldwin, who had a different lawyer, was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Gladys was acquitted of 23 of the 30 charges she faced.

Prosecutors had asked that she serve 27 months in prison, saying she showed greed. But George had asked that she serve no prison time because she had a family to care for, and argued that the charges did not reflect her work as a mother.

She was sentenced to probation, with 10 days of home detention, and went home that day.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Seven More Indicted in Houston for Alleged Participation in Health Care Fraud Scheme

October 18, 2010

Seven additional Houston-area residents who allegedly served as patient recruiters and a nurse have been charged for their alleged participation in a $5 million Medicare home health care fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday. The individuals were scheduled to make their initial appearances Thursday and Friday in U.S. District Court in Houston before Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith.

A superseding indictment filed October 7, 2010, and unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Houston charges Clifford Ubani, 52; Ezinne Ubani, 45; Princewill Njoku, 51; Caroline Njoku, 45; Mary Ellis, 54; Michelle Turner, 42; Cynthia Garza-Williams, 49; Adelma Casas Sevilla, 44; and Sammie Wilson, 69, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Florida Holiday Island, 50; Margaret Pleasant, 45; Estella Joseph, 61; Terrie Porter, 47; and Erica Walker, 30, are charged with conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, along with Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, and Garza-Williams. These individuals are also charged with separate counts relating to the payment and receipt of kickbacks. Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku and Ellis are also charged with making false statements in the submission of claims to the Medicare program. Clifford Ubani, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, and Garza-Williams were charged in the original indictment filed on June 21, 2010.

Typically, a superseding indictment occurs when the government obtains additional or new evidence and wants to charge more individuals with participation in the alleged scheme. The new evidence is most likely derived from others that have already been indicted and are seeking a better plea deal. The government uses this tactic often in order to bring additional charges against other individuals.

According to the superseding indictment, Clifford Ubani, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, and Caroline Njoku were the owners and operators of Family Healthcare Services. The superseding indictment alleges that these owners and operators submitted false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for purportedly providing home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not rendered. According to the superseding indictment, the Medicare program paid Family Healthcare Services approximately $5 million based on the false and fraudulent claims.

Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, Garza-Williams, Wilson, Island, Pleasant, Joseph, Porter, and Walker allegedly recruited Medicare beneficiaries to be placed at Family Healthcare Services for skilled nursing services, and in return allegedly were paid kickbacks by Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku, and others for the referrals. According to the superseding indictment, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Ellis, Garza-Williams, and Sevilla allegedly falsified or helped falsify patient files to make it appear that Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.

The maximum sentence for committing health care fraud is 10 years in prison. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, each individual count of paying and/or receiving kickbacks, and making false statements in determining rights for benefit and payment by Medicare is five years in prison. The superseding indictment seeks forfeiture of assets held by the defendants.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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131 Indicted in Puerto Rico for Alleged Drug Trafficking Crimes; Includes 89 Law Enforcement Officers

October 7, 2010

Eighty-nine law enforcement officers and 44 others in Puerto Rico have been charged in 26 indictments unsealed today and returned by a grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the month of September 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today.

The individuals face charges ranging from conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense. The offenses charged cover a period from in or about July 26, 2008 until September 21, 2010.

The arrests today are the result of Operation Guard Shack, the largest police corruption investigation in the history of the FBI. Close to 750 FBI agents were flown in to Puerto Rico from across the country to assist in the arrests early this morning. Currently 129 individuals are in custody and four subjects remain at-large.

The indictments unsealed today are the result of 125 undercover drug transactions conducted by the FBI in several locations in Puerto Rico, from July 2008 until September 2010. The individuals’ participation in the drug transactions consisted of allegedly providing armed protection to a drug dealer during the sale of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. Allegedly, in exchange for their security services during the undercover drug transactions, the individuals, a majority of whom are law enforcement officers, received payments ranging from $500 to $4,500 per transaction.

In a sting operation like this, there is always the issue of whether the undercover transactions were manipulated by the agents to become a form of entrapment. Unfortunately, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies typically use tactics when investigating individuals that could be conceived as entrapment. Meaning, the undercover agents “entrap” an individual by luring him into an illegal situation. These type of situations are legal, and usually always result in an arrest of the individual that was tricked into such a situation.

The law enforcement officers indicted today are from the following agencies: 60 defendants from the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD); 16 defendants from various municipal police departments; and 12 officers from the Puerto Rico Corrections Department. The remaining defendants include: three Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers; two U.S. Army officers; eight former law enforcement officers; one administrative examiner in child support matters; one employee from the Social Security Administration; and 30 civilians.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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