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Archive for February, 2018

Speaker Madigan Schedules Votes on Gun Safety Measures

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In the wake of another tragic mass shooting claiming innocent lives at a Florida high school, Illinois Speaker Michael J. Madigan and House Democrats will advance a package of legislation next week that includes stricter regulation of gun dealers, restrictions on the purchase of military-style assault rifles, and stronger laws to keep individuals with a history of mental illness from obtaining guns.

“Young people and families whose lives have been forever changed by tragic school shootings went to their state capital and to Washington this week to demand their local legislators and President Trump get serious about enacting tougher gun laws. Their voices need to be heard because it’s now clearer than ever that while it’s the politicians who are refusing to act, it’s our children who suffer the consequences,” Madigan said. “Here in Illinois, Democrats will act on their plea. We will pursue legislation that limits access to the military-style assault rifles that were used to make schools in Florida and Newton into war zones. We will take steps to keep firearms out of the hands of people with a history of mental illness. And we will hold gun dealers accountable to ensure they are complying with the law.”

Madigan plans to call for a vote on gun dealer licensing legislation next week. The measure will hold gun dealers to the same standard as many other licensed professions including car dealerships, real estate agencies, and even beauty salons, to ensure gun shops meet basic levels of security and training and are complying with all state and federal laws.

“The tragic loss of life we witness on a daily basis on our streets, in our state and across our nation is a moral crisis that demands action,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich. “We must hear the voices of the children whose lives are forever changed and of the families who mourn and resolve to enact strong commonsense laws to help stop this madness. It is not too much to say that innocent people are dying as much from lack of courage and political will among our leaders as from bullets. Action is overdue and urgent.”

In addition to gun dealer licensing, Madigan plans to call a vote on a measure empowering family members and law enforcement to take steps to protect loved ones and the public. The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act will allow family members or law enforcement officers to ask a court to temporarily intervene and prevent those who are a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

House Democrats will also present legislation preventing people under 21 from purchasing military-style assault rifles, and enhanced screening requirements that will prevent people with a history of mental illness from purchasing firearms.

“Illinois can—and should—enact some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but those laws will only be keeping our children, families and communities safe from gun violence if gun dealers are following them,” said Kathleen Sances, president and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC. “Holding gun shops accountable is critical to preventing people with dangerous histories from obtaining guns, tracking lost and stolen firearms, and cracking down on straw purchasers.”

Join the Day of Action for Working People

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

  • Join the Day of Action. On Saturday, February 24, working people across the country will join together in rallies to celebrate and protect our right to stand together and fight for our freedom. We need you to join us in the streets. Find an event near you!
  • The truth about the Janus case. In the Atlantic, Garrett Epps lays out why the arguments put forth by big money and corporate CEOs in the Janus case are flat out wrong. Even conservative legal scholars have filed briefs explaining why the side of working people should prevail.
  • The recovery continues. In Puerto Rico, power outages are still the norm. Communities still struggle to fulfill basic needs. But members of AFSCME Council 95 go to work on the island day in and day out despite the tremendous challenges they face. And across the country, AFSCME members are stepping up to help.
  • Young workers are stepping up. Union membership across the nation grew last year, bucking the trend of declining membership. The catalyst for this change? Young people, who are defying expectations and joining unions in record numbers. One analysis showed that 76 percent of new union members are workers under the age of 35.
  • If it quacks like a duck … President Donald Trump announced his “infrastructure plan” recently, only it isn’t an infrastructure plan at all. Instead, it’s a privatization plan that would sell off our nation’s assets to the very people who are rigging the system against working people. And when they need to squeeze profits out of our roads, bridges, water systems and more, it’s working people who will pay every time.

Chicago Teachers Union Will March to Saturday Labor Rally – Will Make a Few Stops on the Way

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Rally, march to workers’ rights mobilization: TODAY, 11 AM
Federal Plaza, Adams and Dearborn, Chicago

  • Feeder march to noon state-wide labor rights rally at Daley Plaza via Citadel, JPMorgan Chase, CPS Board of Education.

CTU, allies will march to labor rally – and make a few stops on the way

Student drum-line will lead parents, teachers, allies on feeder march that targets predatory financial outfits, calls out racist school policies – and demands support for workers’ rights.

CHICAGO, IL With the Supreme Court poised to hear arguments in the Janus case, union workers from across the state are rallying for labor rights today. The CTU is joining that mobilization with a drum-line – and making a few stops on the way.

The CTU kicks off our rally and feeder march at 11 am today at Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Adams with a student drum-line. From there, we’ll make stops at some of the city’s biggest facilitators of school privatization and attacks on workers. Stops include:

  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, one of CPS’ biggest lenders;
  • Hedge fund Citadel, run by billionaire school privatizer Ken Griffin, one of Mayor Emanuel’s biggest donors;
  • The Chicago Board of Education, a rubber stamp for a mayor who has closed dozens of schools, shortchanged special education students and fomented disruption and neglect in neighborhood public schools that educate Chicago’s overwhelmingly low-income Black and Brown students.

Speakers and marchers will include students and union teachers from Hope, Robeson and other Englewood schools targeted for closure; Elisabeth Greer, the local school council chair of NTA – also slated for closure by Emanuel in a takeover bid by wealthy south Loop interests; Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative; Tony Johnson, president of Cook County Colleges Teachers Union Local 1600; and allies, including members of GEM – the Grassroots Education Movement.

The goal of the action is to connect the dots between Emanuel’s racist school closings, predatory lending that undercuts the solvency of public agencies like CPS; and the pivotal role that hedge funds and big finance play in promoting – and bankrolling – attacks on working people and their unions, including the Janus case.

Saturday’s feeder march and rally – part of a nationwide day of action – come just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case initiated by right-wing billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner that’s designed to intensify a rigged system that undercuts working people’s freedom to organize and sustain strong unions. Some of the nation’s wealthiest dark money think tanks, right-wing foundations and conservative mega-donors are bankrolling Janus and parallel initiatives, part of their sustained assault on workers’ rights, labor unions and living wage work.

Illinois Outpacing the Nation in Increasing Low-Income Students’ Participation in Advanced Placement

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

 

Chicago Public Schools named national AP District of the Year

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Data released by the College Board show Illinois’ efforts to improve students’ access to Advanced Placement (AP) are paying off. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) covered a portion of the AP exam fee for all students who qualified as low-income in 2017. The fee reduction resulted in an 11 percent increase in the number of low-income students taking AP exams over 2016 levels – well above the 7 percent national increase and three times greater than the 3.6 percent average increase in states that did not provide funding.

Success on AP exams can earn students early college credit, potentially making college more affordable or allowing students to take more advanced or elective courses. In May 2017, the state’s public and private high school students earned a 3 or higher on 141,383 AP exams. Illinois’ AP program delivered a total potential cost savings of $192,576,370 for students and families in a single year, assuming an average rate of three credit hours granted per AP exam by colleges and universities at an average of $454.03 per credit hour.

“We have tremendous human capital in Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Closing gaps in opportunity and support for our students drives economic and social growth for our communities. The success of our AP program shows what happens when we invest in equity.”

The College Board also named Chicago Public Schools the national AP District of the Year among all large-sized school districts in the United States and Canada. The College Board selects one AP District of the Year for each category of districts (small-, medium-, and large-sized) based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data. Illinois school districts have won AP District of the Year awards in five of the past eight years – a testament to Illinois’ efforts to maximize college and career opportunities for all students.

ISBE has requested an appropriation of $2 million in fiscal year 2019 to continue providing the fee reduction for low-income students and making AP participation possible for all students. The agency also has requested $1 million to expand the AP program to additional schools through teacher professional development and assistance for students to enroll and succeed in AP courses. Part of this funding will support the Lead Higher Initiative, whose partnership with Illinois aims to enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in AP and International Baccalaureate courses.

Additional highlights from Illinois’ AP successes include:

·         23 Illinois school districts made the class of 2017 AP District Honor Roll. (Full list available at https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-district-honor-roll-8th-annual.pdf.)

·         Illinois is outpacing the nation in increasing the number of Hispanic students taking AP exams. Hispanic students’ participation increased by 12.1 percent from 2016 to 2017 in Illinois – compared to 8.8 percent nationally.

·         26.3 percent of Illinois students in the class of 2017 scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school – up from 14.5 percent in 2007. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for growth over the past 10 years in the number of students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school.

·         38.9 percent of Illinois students in the class of 2017 took an AP exam during high school – up from 21.2 percent in 2007.

·         63.9 percent of AP exams taken by Illinois students in the class of 2017 resulted in a score of 3 or higher – compared to 56.2 percent nationally. (Individual students may take more than one exam.)

Justice Department Coordinates Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep of More Than 250 Defendants

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners announced today the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.   The cases involve more than two hundred and fifty defendants from around the globe who victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom were elderly.  The cases include criminal, civil, and forfeiture actions across more than 50 federal districts.  Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally.  In each case, offenders engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors.  In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars.  The Department coordinated its announcement with the FTC and state Attorneys General, who independently filed numerous cases targeting elder frauds within the sweep period.

Attorney General Sessions was joined in the announcement by FBI Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich; Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell; FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen; and Kansas Attorney General and President of the National Association of Attorneys General Derek Schmidt.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “Today’s actions send a clear message:  we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are.  When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department’s disposal – criminal prosecutions to punish offenders, civil injunctions to shut the schemes down, and asset forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains.  Today is only the beginning.  I have directed Department prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts to stop these criminals from exploiting our seniors.”

The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual incidences of identity theft and theft by guardians.  A number of cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim.  The schemes charged in these cases caused losses to more than a million victims.

“Winners. That’s what so many of the people who received these solicitations in the mail thought they were. But they’re not. They are victims (link is external) of scams that Postal Inspectors have seen and investigated for decades. In fact, some of the same operators we encountered 20 years ago are back. But so are we. Yesterday, Postal Inspectors around the country executed search warrants on 12 locations that some of these same operators used to run their scams. We’re letting the American public know – and especially our vulnerable older Americans – that Postal Inspectors are working hard to protect them and ensure their confidence in the U.S. Mail,” said Chief Postal Inspector Cottrell.

“Over the last year, the FBI has initiated more than 200 financial crimes cases involving elderly victims who were devastated financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Picking up the pieces of these fraud schemes can be equally as traumatizing for the caregivers of these elderly victims,” said Acting Deputy Director Bowdich.  “The FBI reminds seniors and their caregivers to be vigilant. If any person believes they are the victim of, or have knowledge of fraud involving an elderly person, regardless of the loss amount, they should report it to the FBI.”

Actions against mass-mailing fraud industry

As part of the initiative, the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and others, brought numerous cases this past week in a coordinated strike against more than 43 mass-mailing fraud operators, including criminal charges against six individuals.  In addition, law enforcement agents executed 14 premises search warrants from Las Vegas to south Florida, served numerous asset seizure warrants, and coordinated with the Vancouver Police in Canada, who executed over 20 warrants, including search warrants on business premises.

“The defendants targeted elderly and vulnerable consumers both in the United States and abroad, using U.S. addresses and the U.S. mails to try to legitimize their fraudulent schemes,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue.  “They sold false promises of life-changing prizes that never came true.  We will pursue the perpetrators of these mail schemes wherever they are located, and hold them accountable.”

These recently filed cases particularly targeted transnational criminal actors who collectively defrauded at least a million victims out of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Indeed, just one of the schemes prosecuted criminally by the Consumer Protection Branch operated from 14 foreign countries to cost American victims more than $30 million.  Click here for map showing a transnational, single fraud scheme.

Mass-mailing fraud inflicts hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to elderly U.S. victims each year.  Department prosecutors and U.S. Postal Inspectors have taken a comprehensive approach to combatting this fraud, disrupting and prosecuting individuals who manage the schemes, artists who draft the fraudulent solicitations, list brokers who supply victim lists, and individuals who collect victim payments. Click here for fact-sheet with cases on mass-mailing fraud.

Actions against other elder fraud schemes

Prosecutors across the country from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, the Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices have heeded the call to focus resources on elder fraud cases.  Over 50 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department Components filed elder fraud cases in the last year.  A list of Elder Fraud cases is provided on this interactive map.

Some examples of the elder financial exploitation prosecuted by the Department include:

  • “Lottery phone scams,” in which callers convince seniors that a large fee or taxes must be paid before one can receive lottery winnings;
  • “Grandparent scams,” which convince seniors that their grandchildren have been arrested and need bail money;
  • “Romance scams,” which lull victims to believe that their online paramour needs funds for a U.S. visit or some other purpose;
  • “IRS imposter schemes,” which defraud victims by posing as IRS agents and claiming that victims owe back taxes;
  • “Guardianship schemes,” which siphon seniors’ financial resources into the bank accounts of deceitful relatives or guardians.

Many of these cases illustrate how an elderly American can lose his or her life savings to a duplicitous relative, guardian, or stranger who gains the victim’s trust.  The devastating effects these cases have on victims and their families, both financially and psychologically, make prosecuting elder fraud a key Department priority.

Public education

The Department has partnered with Senior Corps, a national service program administered by the federal agency the Corporation for National and Community Service, to educate seniors and prevent further victimization. The Senior Corps program engages more than 245,000 older adults in intensive service each year, who in turn, serve more than 840,000 additional seniors, including 332,000 veterans.

Using its vast network operating in more than 30,000 locations, Senior Corps volunteers will communicate about elder fraud to potential victims across the country and will use their skills, knowledge and experience to educate their peers and caregivers about the most prolific types of schemes and how to avoid them. Click here for information on Senior Corps’ efforts to reduce elder fraud.

Coordination with state officials

Kansas Attorney General Schmidt highlighted the cases filed by state Attorneys General targeting elder frauds within in the sweep period, and he emphasized efforts at the state level to combat elder abuse and protect seniors from fraud and exploitation.  He encouraged all of the state Attorneys General to devote enforcement and public education resources to preventing financial exploitation of senior citizens.

Coordination with foreign law enforcement

Exceptional assistance from foreign law enforcement partners amplified the effectiveness of the Department’s initiative.  The sweep announced today benefited greatly from the work of the International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group (IMMFWG), a network of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Europol, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.  The IMMFWG is co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Justice and FTC, and law enforcement in the United Kingdom, and serves as a model for international cooperation against specific threats that endanger the financial well-being of each member country’s residents.  Attorney General Sessions expressed gratitude for the outstanding efforts of the working group, including law enforcement action taken as part of the sweep by the Vancouver Police Department in Canada to halt mass mailing schemes that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims worldwide.

Elder fraud complaints

Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.  The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.

Stopping Scams Targeting Older Consumers

Posted by Admin On February - 24 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

 

The FTC has a long history of protecting people from scams.  As part of its ongoing efforts to protect people in every community, the FTC recently took steps to stop two schemes harming older adults: a tech support scam and a sweepstakes scam.

This latest tech support scam, which appears to impact older adults, has a lot in common with other scams we’ve seen. Some scammers pretend to be calling from the technical support department of a well-known company. Others send pop-up messages warning you about a problem with your computer. They want you to believe your computer is infected with a virus, or that a hacker is trying to access your computer. It’s all a ploy to get you to pay for bogus technical support you don’t need. Find out how you can help someone you know recognize and avoid a tech support scam.

The other operation appears to target older adults with a sweepstakes scam. The companies behind the scam send mailers that make people think they’ve won a $1 million prize (or more!), and that the recipient only needs to pay a small fee to claim it. Find out how you can help someone you know avoid a prize or sweepstakes scam.

If you think you see a scam, talk with someone. Your story could help someone avoid that scam. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Your story could help the FTC stop the scammers.

Chicago Teachers Union: Trump Proposal to Arm Teachers is Appalling

Posted by Admin On February - 23 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Teachers and students should be armed with social workers, trauma support, wrap-around services and adequately resourced classrooms for youth already struggling with dire consequences of gun violence and economic hardship.

 

CHICAGO, ILThe Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in response to President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers. CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey can be cited for attribution:

Since the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, more than 200 school communities have been traumatized by gun violence, most recently in Parkland, Florida. President Trump has proposed addressing this wave of tragedy by arming teachers. We could not more strongly disagree – unless President Trump intends to arm teachers and students with social workers, school counselors, trauma services, wrap-around supports and adequately funded classrooms. He should arm Chicago’s public school teachers and students with school libraries with librarians, robust athletic programs, enrichment programs in art, music and culture – all of the components of a full and rich educational experience that are currently denied to the bulk of our students.

Putting a gun in a teacher’s hand will neither address nor ameliorate gun violence. Many of our schools are already militarized, with metal detectors and armed guards, including off-duty Chicago police officers, empowered to arrest students on the spot. Yet the daily lives of our students, teachers and support staff are routinely punctured by the sounds of sirens and gunshots. As teachers, we contend almost daily with the devastating news that another student’s father, aunt, sibling – or that very student – has been cut down by gun violence. In a five month span last year, seven Henderson elementary school students were shot or wounded by gun violence. And Henderson’s experience is not unique. In 2012, 29 current or recent Harper High School students were shot. Eight died. Today, Harper is slated for closure, after more than $7 million – 74% – in cuts since that bloody year. That kind of disinvestment – like Trump’s proposal to ask the teachers of seven-year-olds to pack pistols — moves us in the wrong direction.

Trump’s proposal will only intensify rather than de-escalate gun violence, just as Mayor Emanuel’s school closures will not solve – and may instead exacerbate – gun violence in Englewood and in our city. In urban cities like Chicago, where income inequality is growing, we need to end the economic violence that drives street violence. Unfortunately, we lack the leadership at the local, state and national level to take proven steps to unpack the root causes of violence, ease the trauma of survivors, and reduce the likelihood of further tragedies. Trump’s appalling ‘proposal’ demonstrates that he is not only out of touch, but that he – like so many corporate politicians – cares more about protecting the interests of his donors than our children.

We understand the anguish of Parkland’ students, and we support our students’ right to make common cause with the Stoneman Douglas high school community – and with every community marred by violence. Our youth intimately grasp the gravity of the danger they face – and they deserve the right to take a public stand to demand safety, security and support.

Families Could Act on Gun Violence Warning Signs Under Raoul Measure

Posted by Admin On February - 23 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

 SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) helped advance a measure Wednesday that puts in place a system for families to report individuals who pose a risk of using a gun to commit a violent crime.

Raoul, the legislation’s chief co-sponsor, argued during the Senate Executive Committee against a former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association who now represents a group of gun dealers.

“In order to stem the unacceptable tide of gun violence in our country, we have to attack the problem from every angle,” Raoul said. “Again and again, we hear that there were warning signs before a mass shooting. If we can do even one thing to prevent these tragedies, we absolutely must.”

The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act allows a family member or a law enforcement officer to alert the courts that they believe an individual poses a significant risk of self-injury or danger to the public and has access to a firearm.

If the court agrees, a judge can require that person to temporarily turn over any firearms in his or her possession.

Raoul will introduce a companion bill that would allow schools, churches and places of business to grant similar orders of protection against individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

Senate Bill 559 passed the Senate Executive Committee and will move to the Senate for further debate.

Attorney General Madigan Files Lawsuit to Stop Illegal Rollback of New Neutrality

Posted by Admin On February - 23 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS
 

Madigan & 22 Attorneys General Fight to Protect Rule Set to End April 23

 

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and 22 other attorneys general filed a multistate lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) illegal rollback of net neutrality rules after the FCC officially published its so-called Restoring Internet Freedom Order, effectively killing net neutrality on April 23.

 

The attorneys general re-filed their petition today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit against the FCC and the federal government after the FCC moved to dismiss a protective petition previously filed by the states on Jan. 16.

 

“I will continue to fight to protect net neutrality from the FCC’s ill-advised attempt to put corporations ahead of the American public’s right to access free information,” Madigan said. “We won’t allow this administration to control what Americans view and access online.”

 

The repeal of net neutrality would have dire consequences for consumers and businesses in Illinois and across the country that rely on a free and open internet – allowing internet service providers to block and slow the quality of certain content and charge consumers to access certain sites.

 

In December 2017, Madigan and a coalition of attorneys general urged the FCC to delay its vote in light of widespread reports that millions of comments regarding net neutrality were submitted under fraudulent or stolen identities. Madigan and the coalition stressed the importance of public participation and encouraged the FCC to cooperate with investigations by law enforcement agencies. Madigan also called on the FBI to investigate the sources of the fraudulent comments.

 

Previously, in July 2017, Madigan led a coalition of 14 attorneys general in submitting comments to the FCC opposing the proposed rollback of the critical net neutrality protections. Madigan argued that the FCC must ensure open access to the internet and the continued equal access to all content providers, which can only be upheld through the principles of an open internet.

 

Joining Madigan in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

 

A copy of the filing can be found here.

 

 

South Florida Doctor Sentenced in Medicare Fraud Scheme

Posted by Admin On February - 23 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Dr. Salomon Melgen was sentenced to 17 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release by the U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra in West Palm Beach, Florida.  This sentencing is the culmination of a multi-year investigation, which was followed by an eight week jury trial in April 2017 that resulted in Melgen’s conviction on 67 counts of health care fraud and related charges.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office; Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG); Patrick Fletcher, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG); and John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), made the announcement.

            Melgen, an ophthalmologist who specialized in the treatment of retinal disorders and who had practiced in Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties for many years until his arrest in 2015, engaged in a scheme to defraud the Medicare program and other health care benefit programs, by, among other things, falsely diagnosing Medicare patients with macular degeneration and then performing and billing for excessive and medically unnecessary tests and procedures, which included injections of expensive drugs and laser treatments.  These tests and procedures resulted in Melgen’s receiving tens of millions of dollars in reimbursement from the Medicare program alone during the six-year period of January 2008 through December 2013.

In sentencing Melgen, Judge Marra found that the intended fraud loss was over $70 million and the actual fraud loss to Medicare was $42 million.  In addition to the term of incarceration, the defendant was ordered to make full restitution to Medicare.   Losses to other insurance companies and to individual patients will be determined at a future hearing.

“In perpetrating his multi-million fraud scheme on health care benefit programs like Medicare, Dr. Melgen showed complete disregard for what was best for his patients and abused their trust for his own personal financial gain,” stated U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg.  “Dr. Melgen has been held responsible for his egregious fraud scheme.  Today’s sentence should serve as a reminder that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to bringing those who illegally divert the community’s tax dollars to justice, regardless of their professional position.”

“The reprehensible conduct of Salomon Melgen is a disgrace to the medical profession,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “Not satisfied with being a successful ophthalmologist committed to treating his patients’ legitimate medical conditions, Melgen devised a scheme to enrich himself by defrauding Medicare and other benefit programs to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.  The FBI will not relent in its pursuit of Medicare fraudsters – including greedy doctors.”

“Salomon Melgen callously took advantage of patients who came to him fearing blindness,” said Shimon Richmond, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. DHHS Office of Inspector General’s Miami Region.  “Instead of treatment, they received medically unreasonable and unnecessary tests and procedures that victimized his patients and the American taxpayer.  Today’s sentencing is a stark reminder that the OIG and our partners will not tolerate Medicare fraud and will not rest in our efforts to protect patients in their time of need.”

“The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Inspector General is committed to fighting Medicare fraud, waste and abuse and is proud to be part of this collaborative effort with the FBI, HHS-OIG, DCIS-OIG and OPM-OIG,” said Inspector General Martin J. Dickman. “The sentencing of Dr. Melgen sends a loud and clear message that combating Medicare fraud is a top Federal law enforcement priority and unscrupulous Medicare providers will not be tolerated.”

“This sentencing demonstrates the effectiveness of our joint investigations to pursue corrupt health care providers who defraud Federal health care programs,” stated Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office.  “DCIS is committed to preserving the integrity of DoD’s TRICARE program which serves America’s Warfighters and their families.”

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, HHS-OIG, RRB-OIG and DCIS.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger H. Stefin, Carolyn Bell and Alexandra Chase.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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