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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Health Care Fraud Unit created to investigate healthcare fraud

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois has created the Health Care Fraud Unit. This team of five assistant U.S. attorneys was created to prosecute health care fraud cases of all types, including diversion of controlled substances and fraudulent billing schemes.

The announcement was made several days after two Chicago-area licensed physicians were charged as part of the largest national health care fraud enforcement takedown action led by the U.S .Department of Justice. This action ultimately accused 412 defendants of participating in fraudulent health care billing. Of these defendants, 15, including the two Chicago-area physicians, were facing federal criminal charges.

4 accused of possession and delivery of bath salts

On July 14, it was reported that four Illinois residents were taken into custody after authorities received a tip about a suspicious odor coming from an apartment complex in Pana. The apartment complex was located in the 300 block of US Highway 52.

When a K-9 officer arrived at the scene, several individuals were allegedly found in one of the apartments. They were identified as a 23-year-old Neoga man, a 30-year-old Neoga woman, a 36-year-old Pana man and a 25-year-old Salem woman. When a search of the apartment was conducted, authorities reportedly recovered 135 grams of what was suspected to be bath salts. Drug paraphernalia was also recovered in addition to more than $8,500 in cash.

The importance of probable cause in an arrest

In the state of Illinois, a person cannot be taken into police custody without some sort of evidence or reasonable suspicion that he or she was involved in a crime. In fact, people are legally allowed to walk away from a police officer unless they have been formally detained. If the officer prevents a person from leaving, that person has only been legally taken into custody if the officer had probable cause.

All United States citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A search or seizure only becomes reasonable when law enforcement officers have probable cause. Probable cause must be established through evidence, observation or information derived from witnesses. Law enforcement officers can also establish probable cause through their expertise, such as if they detect tools that are often involved in certain crimes.

I-70 traffic stop leads to police seizure of cash and heroin

Illinois State Police pulled over a vehicle with two women, ages 47 and 19, on Interstate 70 by Collinsville because of driving with an obstructed view. As the owner of the 2013 Volkswagen CC, the 47-year-old woman consented to a police search of the car. A state trooper reported finding a hidden compartment where six duct-taped packages allegedly holding heroin were stowed. The packages weighed four kilograms. Police estimate the value of the seized substance at approximately $500,000.

The vehicle also contained roughly $1,500 in cash, and the police agency has filed the seizure of forfeiture paperwork to take possession of the money. State law enables law enforcement to keep assets considered to be derived from the selling of drugs.

Rapper Chief Keef charged with drug possession

Media outlets have reported that Chicago rapper Keith Cozart, who is better known by his stage name Chief Keef, was taken into custody on drug possession charges on June 12. Reports indicate that Cozart was apprehended at about 8:30 a.m. at Sioux Falls Regional Airport in South Dakota after Transportation Security Administration agents discovered marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his carry-on luggage. The hip-hop star was transported to the Minnehaha County Jail after being booked, but he was subsequently released after posting a $2,000 bond.

TSA agents say that they found two marijuana edibles and three hollowed-out cigars filled with marijuana known as blunts in Cozart's bag. The rapper has been charged with a felony for the THC edibles and two misdemeanor counts for the marijuana. He entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges against him during his arraignment hearing. Cozart had traveled to South Dakota to perform in an anti-bullying concert, but his fans were not left disappointed as the 21-year-old was able to take to the stage after being released from custody.

Breach of trust: When you are accused of embezzlement

Whether you worked for a company for decades or only a short time, you probably earned some respect among your employers and co-workers. Because your boss was busy attending to other issues in the business, he or she entrusted the accounts to you, perhaps based on your resume or simply because of your reputation in the community.

It may have been challenging to handle the financial affairs of the business or organization, especially if you were struggling with your own budget. Your frustration may have increased if the owner of your company showed no interest in your work or spent no time with you reviewing the accounts. Now those accounts don't add up, and fingers are pointing at you.

Alleged gang members arrested on weapons and drug charges

A joint federal and state investigation has led to the arrest of almost 50 members of a street gang in Illinois. They are alleged to have been involved in an extended criminal enterprise involving drugs and weapons.

Those who were arrested have been accused of multiple drug and weapons violations. The investigation took more than two years. It is alleged that the gang has been operating in Chicago for decades distributing drugs and guns. The drugs involved included methamphetamine, crack and cocaine. The charges are on a federal and state level.

Dermatologist convicted on health care fraud charges

On May 12, it was reported that an Illinois dermatologist based in Chicago was convicted on charges of health care fraud after he was accused of billing for care associated with fraudulently reported pre-cancerous treatments. The man, age 48, submitted false claims from 2007 to 2013 and faces up to 120 years in prison as a result.

The dermatologist would reportedly bill cosmetic treatments as needed to treat pre-cancerous lesions known as actinic keratosis. However, he knew that patients did not have this condition. As such, he documented the false claims with false diagnoses on the patients' charts to cover his tracks.

Traffic stop results in arrests

Two people were arrested after a traffic stop on April 2, 2017, in Bolingbrook, Illinois, on drug and weapon charges. According to a Bolingbrook Police lieutenant, at 8 p.m., a black Ford pickup truck was pulled over for a vehicle registration violation near I-55 and Route 53. During the traffic stop, the officers discovered that there was an active arrest warrant on the passenger, a 45-year-old man from Missouri.

A search was conducted on the vehicle. The officers found a substance that was confirmed as methamphetamine. Also found were drug paraphernalia and a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun.

Man awarded $13 million for wrongful conviction case

On April 12, it was reported that an Illinois man who spent 21 years in prison received a $13 million award for a wrongful conviction. The man was convicted and incarcerated after he signed a murder confession that was allegedly drafted by Cook County prosecutors and officers with the Chicago Police Department.

The man, who was 20 years old at the time, was convicted for the deaths of two individuals in 1995. There was evidence that the man was in police custody on a disorderly conduct charge when the two individuals were killed in their apartment three years earlier. When he was taken into police custody on a drug charge at a later date, he claimed that the authorities coerced him through mental and physical abuse into signing a false confession.

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