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Woman Posing as Nurse For Six Years Sentenced to Prison For Health Care Fraud, Identity Theft, and Wire Fraud

 

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Medical lawsuit. Arrest for medical crime concept. Handcuff near stethoscope on blue background top view.On September 23, 2020, a Tennessee woman who posed as a nurse working at several medical facilities was sentenced to more than four years in prison. In December 2019, she pled guilty to wire fraud, healthcare fraud, identity theft, and practicing nursing without a license.

How a Phony Nurse Gained Employment.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the woman posed as a registered nurse, despite not having a nursing degree or a nursing license, and having no nursing experience. To accomplish the fraud, she obtained the license numbers of real nurses with similar first names. She admitted to providing fraudulent information on job applications to gain employment. She was employed by at least eight different health care providers between September 2012 and November 2018. She also falsely claimed that she held nursing degrees from two educational institutions, Walters State College and Carson Newman University.

This is a long time, six years, to get away with health fraud. Usually, we only see things like this in Florida. However, in the past few years, Florida seems to be seeing fewer and fewer fake doctors, nurses, and health professionals. Perhaps the crackdown by the Florida Department of Health on the unlicensed practice of health professions has had some impact on this.

Continuing Lies & Fraudulent Behavior.

While posing as a nurse, the fake R.N. worked in various medical settings, including nursing homes, rehabilitation and assisted living facilities, a doctor’s office, and home health agencies. She rendered nursing care to numerous patients, dispensed prescription medications, and gained access to patients’ sensitive and private medical information, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Furthermore, the woman made false entries in patients’ medical records and submitted or caused the submission of at least $500,000 in false claims to public and private health care benefit programs.

The phony nurse performed procedures that she was, of course, unqualified to perform. She failed to act or to notify others of the necessary procedures for patients and failed to chart and document patient care. According to the written plea agreement, at least one patient required re-admittance to the hospital and an additional three-day hospital stay due to her inept care.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch is quoted in the media as having stated: “Our Medicaid Fraud Control Division remains committed to working with our federal partners to ensure healthcare fraud and identity theft cases like this one are addressed and investigated thoroughly.”

Judge Clifton L. Corker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee sentenced her to 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to repay $700,000 in restitution to her employers.

To read the DOJ’s press release about this case in full, click here.

To read about a similar case in Florida, click here to view one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“Morristown woman posed as nurse for 6 years at 8 health care providers.” ABC 6 Local News. (December 12, 2019). Web.

Starks, Ariel. “Fake nurse sentenced to 51 months in prison, ordered to repay employers $700,000.” WVLT 8 Local News. (September 23, 2020). Web.

Bonvissuto, Kimberly. “Nurse imposter who worked in assisted living sentenced for wire fraud, healthcare fraud, identity theft.” McKnight’s Senior Living. (September 25, 2020). Web.

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIAbout the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

Given the recent approval of medical marijuana in Florida, it seems likely that there would be “copy cat lawsuits” filed in Florida, as well. The only difference in Florida would be the long history of pig farm precedents that exist.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on this case.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Woman Accused of Operating Illegal Dental Practice Out of Her Garage

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 16, 2018, a Florida woman was accused of practicing as an unlicensed dentist, operating out of her home garage. After receiving an anonymous tip, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Alexandra Gallego after a month-long investigation into the illegal practice.

She is facing charges of Practicing Dentistry without a License, and Unlawful Use and Control of Dental Equipment.

Practicing Without a License.

In addition to running an illegal practice, Gallego is accused of offering discounted rates to patients who paid in cash, couldn’t afford insurance or did not have the proper documents to legally be in the United States. When investigators searched the home, they found a makeshift dental office, including X-rays, medications and payment receipts located in the garage.

She told authorities she would see about 160 patients a month and made about $20,000 from those appointments. She funneled the money through a cleaning company that she legally owned so that she would be paying taxes on the income. She admitted to authorities that she knew she was legally not allowed to practice dentistry in Florida without a license.

Practicing Without a License Is a Crime.

Practicing medicine without a license is a crime! Additionally, so is helping someone practice medicine without a license. As a practitioner, you may be asked to supervise or join a practice. Remember, your license may be at stake with any wrongdoing by your subordinates. Before you join a practice or agree to supervise others, check first with the DOH that the other providers are legitimate. You can check current medical and dentistry licenses in the state of Florida here.

Remember, a license to practice medicine in Venezuela, Cuba, or anywhere else, is just that: a license to practice in that country. It does not allow a person to practice medicine in the United States.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case of a Floridian posing as a doctor.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Providers Licensure and Regulatory Matters and in DOH Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents dentists, pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.

If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Detman, Gary. “Woman practiced dentistry out of garage, deputies say.” CBS 12News. (November 16, 2018). Web.

“Royal Palm Beach woman charged with practicing dental hygiene without license.” WPTV. (November 16, 2018). Web.

Hitchcock, Olivia. “Royal Palm woman accused of running illegal dental practice, making about $20K a month.” The Palm Beach Post. (November 16, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: licensure defense attorney, representation for professional license, representation for professional licensure matters, DOH attorney, representation for DOH investigations, representation for board representation, representation for dentists, dentist lawyer, representation for dentistry matters, dentist defense lawyer, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for licensed health care professionals, licensed health care defense attorney, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud investigation representation, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation representation, review of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Federal Lawsuit Could Have Far Reaching Effects on US Marijuana Industry

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 30, 2018, a federal trial in Colorado could have far-reaching effects on the United States’ marijuana industry if a jury sides with a couple who say having a cannabis business as a neighbor hurts their property’s value. The Denver trial is the first time a jury will consider a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target cannabis companies.

The Suit.

The couple bought the Colorado land for its views of Pikes Peak and built a house on the rural property. But, they claim “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana grow operation have hurt the property’s value and their ability to use and enjoy it.

Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana businesses licensed by states but still violating federal law. Suits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Why This Suit is A Big Deal.

Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants. The anti-racketeering law also allows private parties to file lawsuits claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise. Those who prove it can be financially compensated for damages times three, plus attorneys’ expenses.

In 2015, those who opposed the marijuana industry decided to use this strategy against marijuana companies along with investors, insurers, state regulators and other players. A Denver-based federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that the couple could use anti-racketeering law to sue the licensed cannabis grower neighboring their property. Insurance companies and other entities originally named in the couples’ suit have gradually been removed, some after reaching financial settlements out of court.

The question now is whether the jurors will accept the argument and agree to the amount of $1 million.

Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly and stay on top of the latest news.

To read another blog I wrote on a medical marijuana case in Colorado, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

“Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” The Associated Press. (October 30, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Failed Medical Marijuana Applicant’s Appeal Goes Up in Smoke Thanks to Pennsylvania Court

Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On April 20, 2018, a Pennsylvania court agreed that a company that lost out on a potentially profitable cannabis dispensary permit needed to exhaust administrative remedies before it could file suit. The suit would challenge the constitutionality of the application process for the state’s new medical marijuana program.

A court panel rejected arguments from Keystone ReLeaf LLC (Keystone), which has asked that all medical marijuana permits issued by the state’s Department of Health (DOH) be revoked. Keystone claims that the administrative appeals process did not offer an adequate remedy for the denial of its application.

Keystone’s lawsuit accused the DOH, along with its new Office of Medical Marijuana, of engaging in an inequitable and unconstitutional permitting process. Additionally, Keystone claims the DOH failed to explain how it scored the applications.

The company was one of 450 to submit applications to the DOH as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act took effect under a set of temporary regulations in 2017. There were 12 growing and processing permits and 27 dispensary permits issued through the initial application process.

In response, the DOH filed preliminary objections to the lawsuit seeking dismissal based on Keystone’s failure to complete the appeals process.

The court stated that challenges to the constitutionality of permitting programs typically did not require the exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, Keystone’s lawsuit dealt with how the department was applying the act and regulations governing its implementation. Additionally, where Keystone claimed it did not have an adequate administrative remedy available, the court determined the process needed to be completed before any court could make such a judgment.

To read the court’s opinion on this case, click here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana policy, click here to read one of my prior blogs and check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Fair, Matt. “Pa. Court Won’t Derail State’s Medical Marijuana Program.” Law360. (April 20, 2018). Web.

Miller, Matt. “Jilted medical marijuana permit applicant’s ‘premature’ appeal to Pa. court goes up in smoke.” PennLive. (April 21, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Jeff Sessions Threatens Legalized Marijuana by Reversing Obama-Era Policy

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy of refraining from prosecuting marijuana businesses and individual users in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational use. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this, calling the move a “return to the rule of law.”

Marijuana Criminalization.

Jeff Sessions announced the decision in a memo sent to all U.S. attorneys that highlighted marijuana’s continued criminalization under federal law. In the memo, he labeled previous DOJ guidance discouraging enforcement as “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.”

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement.

This move creates a cloud of uncertainty for legal marijuana businesses and the legalization effort which most recently had seen the start of legal recreational marijuana sales in California on January 1, 2018. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.

However, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, making it a criminal offense to deal or even possess it. You can read Jeff Session’s memo in full, here.

To read a recent blog I wrote on the legalization of marijuana, click here.

For updates on recreational and medical marijuana, regularly check our Marijuana Law Blog.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hill, Jon. “Sessions Reverses Obama-Era Marijuana Enforcement Policy.” Law360. (January 8, 2018). Web.

Zapotosky, Zach. “Use of legalized marijuana threatened as Sessions rescinds Obama-era directive that eased federal enforcement.” The Washington Post. (January 5, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida’s First Green Bank Cuts Business Ties with Medical Marijuana Money

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

When Florida’s medical marijuana industry was first starting to grow, business owners faced a big dilemma: Where could they find a bank to take their millions of dollars? The federal government still considers marijuana an illegal substance without medicinal value, so most banks haven’t been willing to take the industry’s money. Because of federal regulations, the businesses also cannot accept credit cards for payment, as well, making it difficult for patient to obtain medical marijuana by mail.

Despite this, First Green Bank, a Central Florida community bank that doesn’t require a federal charter, came to the rescue. By the summer of 2017, it was handling accounts for six of the state’s seven licensed producers of medical marijuana.

But now, First Green announced that it is closing the accounts of its cannabis clients and won’t be handling their money after January, 2018, due to the federal government’s stance.

Green Light Ends for Marijuana Money.

First Green claims to have found a new institution willing to take its place. It says it is confident that Florida’s 40,000 card-carrying medical marijuana patients won’t notice any hiccups. “There will be no interruption or change in operations as far as patients and members are concerned,” Jake Bergmann, CEO of Surterra Holdings, a medicinal marijuana operator and a First Green client, is reported to have stated.

In Florida, only 13 companies are licensed to grow marijuana and only seven can actually sell it. Therefore, the importance of having a financial partner becomes even more pronounced given the amount of money each company is working with.

Read First Green Bank’s press release on why it made this decision to learn more.

Florida is not the only state having difficulty finding banks for the marijuana industry. In Colorado, marijuana distributors also struggle to operate without access to traditional banking systems. You can learn more about this issue by reading my prior blog on Cannabis Credit Unions.

For updates on marijuana laws and regulations, be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Smiley, David. “The banker to Florida’s medical marijuana players is getting out of the business.” The Miami Herald. (December 22, 2017). Web.

“Florida’s pot banker is closing accounts.” The Denver Post. (December 28, 2017). Print.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

DOJ Releases 2016 False Claims Act Recovery Statistics: Third Highest Annual Recovery Ever

5 Indest-2008-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 14, 2016, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released its annual False Claims Act (FCA) recovery statistics. It revealed that the DOJ obtained more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in fiscal year 2016. What this indicates to me is that, if all of these cases had been brought by individual relators, those relators could have shared in as much as $1.41 billion as their personal reward for the relator’s part of the recoveries. A whistle blower can receive up to 30 percent of the amount warded to the government, plus all attorney’s fees and costs, for bringing a successful False Claims Act case.

The Third Highest Annual Recovery.

Based on these statistics, 2016 took its place as the third highest annual recovery since the FCA was established in the 1800s. The fiscal year average jumps to nearly $4 billion since fiscal year 2009, and the total recovery during that period to $31.3 billion.

“Congress amended the False Claims Act 30 years ago to give the government a more effective tool against false and fraudulent claims against federal programs,” said Mizer. “An astonishing 60 percent of those recoveries were obtained in the last eight years. The beneficiaries of these efforts include veterans, the elderly, and low-income families who are insured by federal health care programs; families and students who are able to afford homes and go to college thanks to federally insured loans; and all of us who are protected by the government’s investment in national security and defense. In short, Americans across the country are healthier, enjoy a better quality of life, and are safer because of our continuing success in protecting taxpayer funds from misuse.”

Fraud in the Health Care Industry.

The DOJ recovered $19.3 billion in health care fraud claims from January 2009 to the end of fiscal year 2016. Additionally, 57 percent of the health care fraud dollars recovered in the 30 years since the 1986 amendments to FCA claims. Most of the false claims actions are filed under those whistle blower, or qui tam, provisions. Whistle blowers filed 702 qui tam suits in fiscal year 2016, and the DOJ recovered $2.9 billion in these and earlier filed suits in 2016. The government awarded the whistle blowers a total of $519 million during the same time period.

Click here to read the DOJ’s press release in full.

These DOJ fraud recoveries restore valuable assets to federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE, the health care program for service members and their families.

To read more on the importance of preventing health care fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

If you find yourself at the center on an audit or investigation for health care fraud, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact an experienced health law attorney. To find out how The Health Law Firm can help you, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with FCA, Qui Tam or Whistle Blower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistle blower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistle blower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Sources:

Richardson, Kalie. “DOJ Announces $4.7 billion in False Claims Act Collections – $2.5 billion in Health Care Alone.” AHLA Weekly. (December 15, 2016). Web.

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. “DOJ Releases its 2016 False Claims Act Recovery Statistics.” The National Law Review. (December 15, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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Jeff Sessions Threatens Legalized Marijuana by Reversing Obama-Era Policy

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy of refraining from prosecuting marijuana businesses and individual users in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational use. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this, calling the move a “return to the rule of law.”

Marijuana Criminalization.

Jeff Sessions announced the decision in a memo sent to all U.S. attorneys that highlighted marijuana’s continued criminalization under federal law. In the memo, he labeled previous DOJ guidance discouraging enforcement as “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.”

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement.

This move creates a cloud of uncertainty for legal marijuana businesses and the legalization effort which most recently had seen the start of legal recreational marijuana sales in California on January 1, 2018. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.

However, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, making it a criminal offense to deal or even possess it. You can read Jeff Session’s memo in full, here.

To read a recent blog I wrote on the legalization of marijuana, click here.

For updates on recreational and medical marijuana, regularly check our Marijuana Law Blog.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hill, Jon. “Sessions Reverses Obama-Era Marijuana Enforcement Policy.” Law360. (January 8, 2018). Web.

Zapotosky, Zach. “Use of legalized marijuana threatened as Sessions rescinds Obama-era directive that eased federal enforcement.” The Washington Post. (January 5, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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