Feds bust 3 healthcare kingpins for $1 billion Medicare scam in Florida

One of the state’s wealthiest healthcare operators was arrested Friday at his Miami Beach waterfront estate on charges of orchestrating the nation’s biggest Medicare fraud scheme — $1 billion.

Philip Esformes, 47, charged with two other defendants, is accused of exploiting his network of about 20 Miami-Dade skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities to fleece the taxpayer-funded Medicare by filing false claims for services that were not necessary or in some instances not provided over the past 14 years.

An unidentified local hospital referred some of the thousands of Medicare patients to his network through kickback payments to physicians and other medical professionals, according to an indictment.

Esformes is charged with conspiring with Arnaldo Carmouze, 56, a Palmetto Bay physician’s assistant, and Odette Barcha, 49, a former longtime director of outreach programs at Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami. Authorities would not confirm whether that was the local hospital at the center of the alleged scheme.

Esformes is also accused of referring his own network of patients to other convicted healthcare fraud offenders, who swindled Medicare for mental health, prescription drug and home healthcare services and ultimately helped federal investigators target the Miami Beach business executive. According to the indictment, those kickbacks were “disguised” as payments for escort services for Esformes as well as related travel and hotel expenses.

Justice Department officials — along with South Florida’s U.S. attorney, the FBI and Health and Human Services agents — described the Esformes case as one for the record books in the nation’s long-standing battle against healthcare fraud…

“This is the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,”…assistant attorney general, Leslie R. Caldwell, said Friday…

“The magnitude of alleged false claims in this scheme is staggering and outrageous, even by South Florida healthcare fraud standards,” said U.S. attorney Wifredo Ferrer…

Yes – by “Florida healthcare fraud standards”. Florida’s Republican governor got his management experience from a chain of clinics busted for fraud. Florida is the nation’s center for pill clinics providing opioids for junkies stretching from the East Coast to Texas.

Why Florida voters were dumb enough to put a clown like Rick Scott in charge is beyond comprehension. The proof is once again in the criminal pudding cooked up in his state. Nothing turned up by Florida coppers, state or local. Once again, it took the Department of Justice to turn up this batch of thieves stealing from the taxpayers’ till.

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Feds claim Microsoft can’t shield user data from government

The U.S. says there’s no legal basis for the government to be required to tell Microsoft customers when it intercepts their e-mail.

The software giant’s lawsuit alleging that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property should be thrown out, the government said in a court filing. The U.S. said federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation.

Microsoft sued the Justice Department and Attorney General Loretta Lynch in April, escalating a feud with the U.S. over customer privacy and its ability to disclose what it’s asked to turn over to investigators…

The Justice Department’s reply Friday underscores the government’s willingness to fight back against tech companies it sees obstructing national security and [often bullshit] law enforcement investigations. Tensions remain high following a series of court confrontations between the FBI and Apple over whether the company could be compelled to help unlock iPhones in criminal probes…

The industry’s push against government intrusion into their customers’ private information began at least two years ago, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures about covert data collection that put them all on the defensive.

Microsoft and Apple argue the very future of mobile and cloud computing is at stake if customers can’t trust that their data will remain private, while investigators seek digital tools to help them fight increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists savvy at using technology to communicate and hide their tracks…

The government said Microsoft doesn’t have the authority to sue over whether its users’ constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure are being violated…

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

Our government does not recognize any individual right to privacy. Our government does not recognize any individual right to knowledge of the government investigating folks. Yeah, we can all come up with some unique circumstance when that might seem reasonable. Our government presumes a blanket privilege while denying any such right to ordinary citizens.

Not so incidentally, this isn’t especially a conservative vs liberal thing. There are a few of each in Establishment politics who will back up Americans’ right to privacy, right to know. Damned few.

The rest are silent.

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Terrify a child with Republican, know-nothing, climate change inaction figures


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You’ve likely heard about the new collectibles taking the world by storm: They’re cute, cuddly, and exist only in a virtual world that may be better than the real one. We’re talking about Climate Change Inaction Figures.

A project of the National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously, these anti-heroes are known for their blind rejection of facts, logic, and science. All can be acquired via social media and include such conservative thought leaders as: John Boehner, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell.

A veritable Rogues Gallery of incompetent examples of addiction to fossil fuel.

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Concrete micro-home: install time on-site = 7 hours

koda-kodasema-1
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Estonian firm Kodasema is developing a prefabricated concrete micro-home that can be assembled and installed on-site within just seven hours, then moved to another location with relative ease. Once it’s ready for market, the home is expected to fetch roughly €100,000 (around US$111,000), excluding transport costs.

Koda is built from concrete and ships in prefabricated sections, so when it arrives on-site, it only takes roughly seven hours to assemble and put into place…No foundations are necessary and it can be placed on gravel, asphalt, and other surfaces, providing it has a level footing…

The home comprises a total floorspace of 326 sq ft, mostly taken up by a large living room and kitchen area on the ground floor. Also on the ground floor lies a bathroom with toilet and bath/shower, while stairs lead to a small bedroom area and laundry room.

Get two. They’re small. Ask for a discount.

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Homeland Security tries to go fishing in journalist’s cellphones — she calls their bluff!

Maria Abi-Habib

Borders are arbitrary, human-made constructs. Sure, the lines on a map seem almost pre-ordained, but they change within lifetimes, and get redefined by governments in all sorts of weird little ways. Maria Abi-Habib, a journalist who reports on the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal, found out just how arbitrary borders can be. Flying from Beirut to a wedding in Los Angeles, she writes that she was pulled aside by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, who screened her for an extra hour and then demanded access to her cellphones.

❝ “[The agent] handed me a DHS document, a photo of which I’ve attached. It basically says the U.S. government has the right to seize my phones and my rights as a U.S. citizen (or citizen of the world) go out the window. This law applies at any point of entry into the U.S., whether naval, air or land and extends for 100 miles into the US from the border or formal points of entry. So, all of NY city for instance. If they forgot to ask you at JFK airport for your phones, but you’re having a drink in Manhattan the next day, you technically fall under this authority. And because they are acting under the pretense to protect the US from terrorism, you have to give it up.

“So I called their bluff.

“You’ll have to call The Wall Street Journal’s lawyers, as those phones are the property of WSJ,” I told her, calmly.

Abi-Habib’s full post is worth reading, especially for the section on technology at the end. In Abi-Habib’s case, she was able to get through without divulging her contacts or any information on her phone thanks to the threat of legal action from a major newspaper. Her advice for securing phones is to use encryption as a baseline, but that anything truly sensitive should be transferred to paper and secured physically, then deleted from the phone.

I hope there aren’t many folks out there who remain gullible enough to think “Homeland Security” has an interest in protecting the rights of ordinary citizens. Remember, these creeps – whichever alphabet flavor, DHS, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. – all think they’re above the law and you.

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Wind energy will add billion$ to the Illinois economy


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Illinois’ 25 largest wind farms have supported 20,173 jobs during construction and will add $6.4 billion to local economies over the 25-year life of the projects.

That is one of the findings of a study on the economic impact of wind energy released by Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy…

“Wind energy has played an increasingly important part in the state’s energy mix resulting in numerous economic development benefits,” Center Director David Loomis said. “Decision-makers need to be well-informed about these benefits so that they consider all of the factors when deciding on future wind projects.”

The Center’s report adds that the 25 largest wind farms in Illinois support about 869 permanent jobs with 226 direct jobs in rural areas in Illinois. The wind farms generate $30.4 million in annual property taxes for local communities and $13.86 million in extra income for landowners who lease their land to developers…

Illinois built two new wind farms in 2015 after two years of not building any. Several new wind farms were permitted in 2015 and could start construction in 2016.

Or they could listen to idjits in the pocket of the Koch Bros and go back to polluting the skies of Illinois with more coal-burners.

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This 9 minute film got its indie director a gig writing the new Pacific Rim movie


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In just a few years, Emily Carmichael has gone from making an animated webseries for Penny Arcade to writing Pacific Rim: Maelstrom and directing Powerhouse, the next big project from Steven Spielberg.

Today on Ars Technica, we’re proud to host the digital debut of Stryka, one of Carmichael’s short films that rocketed her from gamer geekdom to Hollywood. It’s the tale of a neurotic alien lizard living in Brooklyn, just trying to get by on small time heists. She has just one problem. Her partner in crime just isn’t bringing the zing anymore, and she’s been secretly doing jobs on the side with someone else.

Watch the video. RTFA for a peek inside just how easy – and unlikely – creative success can be.

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North Carolina gets a lesson in the co$t of bigotry from the NBA

Bye bye, NBA

The NBA announced Thursday it will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s law that bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

“The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019,” the league said in a statement.

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” as the law is commonly known…

The NBA’s decision is the latest fallout for North Carolina from the controversial law, which has been widely criticized as discriminatory. The law, which was passed in March, requires transgender individuals to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates. In April, Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro. Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Boston likewise have canceled shows, while Cirque du Soleil bypassed two scheduled performances. PayPal canceled plans to open a new payment center in Charlotte, while Deutsche Bank did away with plans to expand its operations in Cary, costing the state an estimated 650 jobs. Since April more than 120 companies have called for a repeal of the law, as PepsiCo, American Airlines and Wells Fargo have all raised concerns…

❝ “The NBA is taking an important stand against North Carolina’s unconstitutional and discriminatory HB2,” Heidi Hess, senior campaign manager for the social change organization CREDO, said in a statement. “This is further evidence that hate and bigotry are bad for business.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory reacted by issuing a statement that said blah, blah, blah, blah blah.

The All-Star Game alone would have generate $100 million of revenue for the state, according to Athlete Ally. Since the law was passed, the state has lost $329 million in business, according to Equality NC.

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Black therapist shot by Florida police while helping autistic patient in the street


Charles Kinsey hands in the air, autistic patient has toy truckHilton Napoleon

Click photo to run the cellphone video

A black therapist in the US state of Florida trying to calm a man with autism in the middle of the street says he was shot by police, even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that both were unarmed.

The moments before the shooting on Monday were recorded on cellphone video, showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.

As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking. They’re not going to shoot me,” he told WSVN-TV later from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg.

“Wow, was I wrong.”

The shooting comes at a time of growing tensions and increased protests against the disproportionate number of African Americans killed by the police.

North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said on Thursday he had asked Florida state officials to lead the investigation into the shooting.

Eugene said officers responded to a 911 emergency call about an armed man threatening suicide, but the chief told reporters no gun was recovered at the scene.

Kinsey said he was trying to calm his 23-year-old patient who had run away from the group home where he works.

“All he has is a toy truck in his hand,” Kinsey can be heard saying in the video, speaking of his patient, who was holding a toy. “That’s all it is. There is no need for guns.”

Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher, reporting from North Miami, said: “The video at that point goes black, but we are told that a police officer fired three rounds towards Kinsey, one of them striking him in his leg.”

Racism in America may have diminished very slightly over the decades since I was young. Excuses haven’t changed. Copouts – literally copouts – from police departments haven’t changed. It’s still OK for a cop to shoot an unarmed Black man in America. The odds continue to be overwhelming that he will get away with it.

So-called journalists, TV talking heads, politicians of every stripe will jostle each other in line to be certain the copper who did the shooting is treated “fairly”. And screw the victim. It will take that minority of Americans who resent our nation’s failure to provide an equal opportunity at staying alive – to gather a movement more concerned with justice than intellectual and ethical cowardice – to protest against our murderous bigotry.

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Lying liars – more and less

Politifact, candidates
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Thanks, Ursarodinia

Posted in Corruption, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments