Articles Posted in Federal RICO Charges

US News and World Report has once again included the Barone Defense Firm as among the region’s Best Law Firms for DUI/DWI Defense. The Firm has been so listed since 2010.

US News and World Report ranks lawyers based on a variety of criteria. While the award is granted by the publication, it is essentially based on peer review. For a law firm to be ranked by US News and World Report a lawyer in the subject firm must first be among those lawyers who have previously received a “Best Lawyers” award by US News and World Report. These lawyers have passed peer review, meaning that other lawyers in the region, or nationally if applicable, have indicated that the lawyer possesses sufficient subject matter expertise, is known to possess and execute a high level of responsiveness to the rigors and demands of the profession, including things such as decorum with the courts, timely filing of pleadings and papers, responding to clients and opposing counsel, and many other professional demands. Peers are also asked whether they would refer a matter to a firm and whether they consider a firm a worthy competitor. On this basis, the Barone Defense Firm has a tier one regional ranking for the area of DUI/DWI.

For more than 20 years the Barone Defense Firm has developed its pristine reputation for DUI/DWI defense and distinguished itself among its peers for excellence in this challenging area of criminal law. However, for the later portion of the past 20-year period the Barone Defense Firm has expanded its practice to include other areas of criminal defense at both the State and Federal level and has developed expertise in such disparate areas as firearms law, criminal sexual conduct including the possession manufacture and distribution of child pornography (at the Federal level) and CSAM (child sexually abuse material) and other CSC cases at the state level, and many areas of white collar criminal including health care fraud, prescription fraud, complex financial crimes and RICO.

Dealing with any criminal charge can be a daunting task. This is especially true when facing Federal criminal charges because most people feel more frightened and intimidated when the criminal charges are brought in the Federal courts as opposed to the State courts.  If you are facing Federal charges you may wonder why you are not in State court. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you may wonder why you are being prosecuted in both courts. There are many reasons for this decision, and these are discussed below.

Being Prosecuted in Both State and Federal Court

To begin with, all courts handling criminal cases are in either the Federal or the State court system, but the criminal cases they are empowered to hear, also called their “jurisdiction” differs significantly. Federal court judges have the power to preside over matters involving the U.S. Constitution and over all Federal Laws, which are those passed by the U.S. Congress. State court judges are empowered to preside over cases involving the State Constitution, and over all State laws, meaning those passed by a State or Municipal governing body. State courts can therefore preside over traffic tickets and state misdemeanor and felony cases. The court of primary jurisdiction in the Federal system is called the “district court” whereas the court of primary jurisdiction in the State system is the circuit court.  In the State system, the district court is a lower court, below the circuit court, and is the place all state criminal charges begin.  State felonies must be handled in the circuit court however.

The Barone Defense Firm is pleased to announce that Patrick Barone, the Firm’s founding member, has been admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Mr. Barone has been admitted to practice before the Federal District Court for the Eastern District since 1993.

Mr. Barone was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1991. He was admitted to the State Bar of Illinois in 1993.  However, being admitted to the state bar in one or more states does not authorize a lawyer to practice before any Federal Court.  This is because the rules applicable to Federal Courts differ from State Courts in several ways.  First, simply being admitted to a state bar is necessary but insufficient. Admission before a specific Federal Court requires that the attorney seeking admission prepare a petition to be filed with the Federal Court.  This petition must be supported by a sponsoring attorney who vouches for the attorney seeking admission.  The sponsoring attorney must already be a member of Federal Court where the petitioning lawyer is seeking admission.

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Federal Criminal Defense Team

One of the many unintended consequences of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic may well be a significant increase in financial fraud. This is due in part to the central banks lowering of the prime interest rate to zero percent. With money this “cheap” companies and individuals are encouraged to borrow money, which is all well and good until the money must be repaid. And when money is cheap, individuals may use the money they have borrowed recklessly, taking greater risks of loss.

Financial fraud occurs when an individual or corporation offers to provide goods, services, or financial benefits knowing that that these things do not and may never exist. In these situations, the victims of financial fraud trade money for these benefits, but never receive what’s been promised to them.  This is because the perpetrators of the financial fraud know that the benefits  do not exist, were never intended to be provided, or were misrepresented. Typically, victims give money but never receive what they paid for.

Possibly the most famous historical example of financial fraud occurred in the 1870s and is referred to as a “Ponzi scheme.”  Charles Ponzi was a businessman and financier who created the Securities and Exchange Company.  Using this as a front to defraud, Mr. Ponzi took money from investors, and then, after a mere 45 days, promised to return to them a 50% profit.  Trouble was that the money was never “invested.” Ponzi simply took the new money he was being paid today to pay off the older investors.  Also called a “pyramid scheme” a Ponzi scheme can only last so long, and like all Ponzi schemes, it eventually collapsed.

As part of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, several of Michigan’s pharmacists have been charged with Medicare and Medicaid Prescription Fraud.  The allegations include claims that at least one scheme lead to the defrauding of the Federal Government of more than five million dollars. Further, that fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross via the service dialdrugspharmacy.com. Medications fraudulently prescribed included Clozapine and Alprazolam. According to the complaint, some of these prescriptions were written for dead people.

According to Title 18 of the United States Code, health care fraud consists of the knowing implementation (or attempted implementation) of a scheme intended to defraud a health care program using false pretenses. A pharmacist can violate this law even if they are ignorant of the law itself, or if they only have the “general intent” to violate the law. This is because health care fraud under this section is not a specific intent crime. The law defines “fraud” as being the intentional deception or misrepresentation of facts which lead to the receiving of an unauthorized benefit. But here again the intent need only be general and not specific. According to the Michigan prescription fraud lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm, this can lead to unfair prosecution of pharmacists who never specifically intended to violate the law.

There are many kinds of prescription fraud.  Once type of prescription fraud involves a scheme whereby a prescription is set on “auto-refill” and then billed as scheduled when the patient never actually ordered or wanted the medication. These prescriptions are never picked up but the pharmacy non-the-less bills Medicare. This same medication can be “re-sold” many times over, thereby increasing the size of the auto-refill fraud. Another version of this kind of fraud involves giving the undelivered pills to patients, staff or medical sales reps for redistribution. This is most common with Opioid drugs that have significant street value.

Former Mob Prosecutor Keith Corbett Says Netflix Irishman Misleads About Hoffa’s Disappearance.

Barone Defense Firm attorney Keith Corbett spent most of his career putting away Detroit’s most notorious mobsters. As the Chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force for the United States Attorney’s Office, Corbett was responsible for helping to put away some of the biggest players in Detroit’s top crime families, including Tocco and Zerilli. After a couple decades as a mob prosecutor working with these cases, and in the course of it, immersing himself in the history and culture of La Cosa Nostra, it’s no wonder he’s been repeatedly interviewed regarding the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. With the release of the Netflix original The Irishman, a Martin Scorsese film starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, the public’s interest in knowing more about this topic is once again piqued, leading to a flurry of more recent interviews.

According to Channel Four News, Corbett “was the prosecutor who sent both Zerilli and Tocco to prison.” Having prosecuted them, Corbett has an idea of the ill-will that might exist between them and told Channel Four News that Tocco blames Zerilli for his conviction and incarceration.  So maybe Tocco had a reason to lie about Jimmy Hoffa being buried on Zerilli’s property?

On the other hand, in a WJR interview, Corbett doubted Hoffa’s good friend Charles O’Brien had anything to do with his disappearance.  “I don’t think Chuckie was involved, he’s not the kind of guy you want,” Corbett said regarding Hoffa’s disappearance.

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