Local Crime News


GRAND JURY INDICTS WESTERVILLE MAN FOR THREATENING CONGRESSMAN

COLUMBUS – A federal grand jury has charged E. Stanley Hoff, 68, of Westerville with one count of threatening to assault and murder a United States official, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and the United States Capitol Police announced the indictment returned today.

The indictment alleges that Hoff threatened to assault and murder U.S Representative Steve Stivers and a member of Stivers’ family.

Hoff was charged by a criminal complaint on June 21, 2017 and arrested. An affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that Hoff left a threatening voice mail on Rep. Stivers’ Hilliard office phone. Hoff is being held without bond.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the U.S. Capitol Police and Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin Kelley and Brian Martinez, who are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

NEW ALBANY MAN SENTENCED TO 200 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ROLE IN COCAINE TRAFFICKING CONSPIRACY

COLUMBUS – Oscar Collado-Rivera, 32, of New Albany, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 200 months in prison for conspiring with others to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine.

A U.S. District Court jury convicted Collado-Rivera in November 2016 after a three-day trial for his role in the conspiracy, which involved at least $4 million in drugs and U.S. currency over a six-month period in 2015.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio, Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, and agencies in a state and local task force announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.

Evidence presented during the trial established that Collado-Rivera and others were responsible for arranging large shipments of cocaine from Mexico and Texas into the Columbus area.

The jury convicted Collado-Rivera of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Task Force officers arrested Collado-Rivera in December 2015 based on a federal criminal complaint. He has been in custody since his arrest.

Glassman commended Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the investigators with police departments in Pickerington, Upper Arlington and Westerville who conducted the investigation, as well as Deputy Criminal Chief Michael Hunter and Appellate Chief Mary Beth Young, who represent the United States in prosecuting the case.

ROSS COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO 120 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR DEALING HEROIN, ILLEGALLY POSSESSING MACHINE GUNS AND OTHER FIREARMS

COLUMBUS – Ronald Allen Meadows, 46, of Chillicothe, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for illegally possessing firearms, including machine guns, and dealing heroin from his house.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Ross County Sheriff George W. Lavender and the U.S. 23 Pipeline Major Crimes Task Force announced the sentence handed down today by Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.

Undercover task force officers bought drugs at Meadows’ Wilson Run Road house in 2015 after receiving complaints about drug trafficking taking place there. Agents executed two search warrants at Meadows’ home in 2016, seized 40 firearms including two machine guns, and almost 90 grams of heroin. ATF agents and task force officers arrested Meadows in August 2016 following a grand jury indictment.

Meadows pleaded guilty on March 16, 2017 to three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession of a machine gun and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin.

“There’s one less heroin dealer on the streets in Ross County today because people came forward and worked with law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “The machine guns the agents seized also show that drugs and violence continue to be a deadly duo.” Glassman also commended the investigation by the U.S. 23 Pipeline Major Crimes Task Force and the ATF. Glassman also commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy D. Prichard who represented the United States in this case.

COLUMBUS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIS

COLUMBUS – Aaron Travis Daniels, 20, aka Harun Muhammad, aka Abu Yusef of Columbus pled guilty in U.S. District Court to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B. Daniels faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, and agencies participating in the Columbus Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) announced the plea entered today before Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.

JTTF agents arrested Daniels on November 7, 2106, as he attempted to leave Columbus with the intent to join ISIS in Libya. A federal grand jury indicted him on November 10, 2016 Daniels has been in custody since his arrest.

“This case demonstrates how terrorist activities abroad can reach into our local communities,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “Our office and agencies in the JTTF will continue to cooperate as we work to protect our national security.”

The Columbus JTTF is made up of officers and agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, The Ohio State University Police Department, the Ohio Investigative Unit, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the John Glenn International Airport Police Department, Westerville Police Department and Columbus Division of Fire.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica W. Knight, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gibson with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s Office, and Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

THREE COMPANIES AND THEIR EXECUTIVES PAY $19.5 MILLION TO RESOLVE FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS PERTAINING TO REHABILITATION THERAPY AND HOSPICE SERVICES

WASHINGTON – Ohio based Foundations Health Solutions Inc. (FHS), Olympia Therapy Inc. (Olympia), and Tridia Hospice Care Inc. (Tridia), and their executives, Brian Colleran (Colleran) and Daniel Parker (Parker), have agreed to pay approximately $19.5 million to resolve allegations pertaining to the submission of false claims for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy and hospice services to Medicare, the Department of Justice announced today.

“Clinical decisions should be based on patient needs rather than corporate profits,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement reflects the Department’s continuing commitment to safeguarding patients and the Medicare system.”

FHS is the corporate successor to Provider Services Inc. (PSI), which provided management services to skilled nursing facilities. In 2010, PSI was merged into BCFL Holdings Inc. (BCFL), which was renamed FHS in 2013. Olympia provided rehabilitation therapy services to patients at the skilled nursing facilities managed by PSI and BCFL. Tridia Hospice Care Inc. provided hospice care services. Colleran and Parker partially controlled or owned PSI, BCFL, FHS, Olympia, and Tridia between 2008 and 2013.

The settlement resolves allegations that, from January 2008 through December 2012, Olympia and PSI/BCFL submitted, or caused the submission of, false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services at 18 skilled nursing facilities. The government contended that the therapy services were provided at excessive levels to increase Medicare reimbursement for those services.

The settlement further resolves allegations that, from April 2011 through December 2013, Tridia submitted false claims to Medicare for hospice services provided to patients who were ineligible for the Medicare hospice benefit because Tridia failed to conduct proper certifications or medical examinations. The settlement also resolves allegations that from January 2008 through December 2012, Colleran and Parker solicited and received kickbacks to refer patients from skilled nursing facilities managed by PSI or BCFL to Amber Home Care LLC, a home health care services provider.

“This is one of the largest nursing home operations in Ohio,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio. “It is unacceptable for an entity entrusted to care for our most vulnerable and elderly citizens to make decisions based on profit, not quality of care. Subjecting the elderly to inappropriate levels of therapy can be physically harmful, and failing to properly certify and re-certify hospice patients can have a devastating impact on the patients and their families.”

As part of the settlement, FHS and Colleran have entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The CIA is designed to increase the accountability and transparency of FHS and Colleran so that they will avoid or promptly detect future fraud and abuse.

“Medicare providers have a legal and moral obligation to provide only those services that are medically necessary and to ensure that claims seeking payment accurately reflect the services that are actually provided,” said Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “The misrepresentation or falsification of those claims not only violates provisions of the False Claims Act but the public’s trust. The OIG will continue to aggressively investigate allegations of potential violations of this nature.”

The settlement resolves allegations filed in two separate lawsuits by Vladimir Trakhter, a former Olympia employee, and Paula Bourne and La’Tasha Goodwin, former Tridia employees, in federal court in Columbus, Ohio. The lawsuits were filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. Mr. Trahkter will receive approximately $2.9 million and Ms. Bourne and Ms. Goodwin collectively will receive $740,000.

The settlement is the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, with assistance from HHS-OIG, the HHS Office of Counsel to the Inspector General, and the Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

These cases are captioned United States ex rel. Trakhter v. Provider Services, Inc., n/k/a BCFL Holdings, Inc., et. al., Case No. 1:11-CV-217, and United States ex rel. Bourne and Goodwin v. Brian Colleran, et. al., Case No. 1:12-CV-935. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Attorney General Seeks Consumer Restitution from Trash Removal Service

NEW PHILADELPHIA — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a lawsuit against the operators of a waste removal company accused of failing to deliver promised services to consumers in eastern Ohio.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit accuses Firebird Waste & Recycling’s operators, Michael Lohr and Shirley Bennett-Lohr, of collecting deposits from consumers but failing to provide promised trash removal services and failing to provide refunds.

According to the lawsuit, Firebird Waste & Recycling’s principal place of business was 121 S. Romig St. in Uhrichsville, but it reportedly stopped operating in late 2016 and filed for bankruptcy in February 2017.

Consumers in multiple Ohio counties, including Tuscarawas, Carroll, Harrison, Columbiana, and Guernsey, filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau saying they paid Firebird about $30 to $60 each but that the company did not pick up their trash. Among 37 complaints, estimated consumer losses currently total about $1,850, but additional consumers likely have been affected.

In the lawsuit, filed in the Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court, the Attorney General seeks damages for consumers and an injunction to prohibit the defendants from engaging in other consumer transactions in Ohio until they have repaid consumers in this case.

Affected consumers should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at [www.ohioprotects.org]www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

NATIONAL HEALTH CARE FRAUD TAKE-DOWN INCLUDES TWO CENTRAL OHIO COMPANIES AND OWNERS CHARGED WITH FALSE BILLING

COLUMBUS – A federal grand jury has returned separate indictments charging two central Ohio health care companies and the people who own them with health care fraud. One company allegedly billed government insurance programs for unnecessary medical procedures and the other is accused of billing government insurance programs for pain and scar creams that recipients said they never requested or wanted.

The two Ohio cases are part of a nationwide health care fraud takedown announced today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region; the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office; Angela Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation Cincinnati; Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and Steven W. Schierholt, Executive Director of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced the indictments today as part of a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent health care providers.

One indictment alleges that Salim Dahdah who owns and operates the Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care (OICC) in Springfield, and his wife Cindy Dahdah who owns Accubil, a company that handles the billing for OICC, received more than $2 million from Medicare and Medicaid for medically unnecessary nuclear stress tests and medically unnecessary coronary interventions such as pacemaker insertion and stent procedures. The indictment charges them with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud, crimes punishable by up to ten years in prison, and health care false statements a crime which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The grand jury also indicted Darrell Bryant and Gifty Kusi, a husband and wife who own and manage Health & Wellness Pharmacy in Dublin. Kusi and Dr. Jornel Rivera owned and operated Health & Wellness Medical Center, also in Dublin. The indictment alleges that they fraudulently received more than $3 million from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) through multiple schemes including billing for compound creams that were not provided or not requested by patients, billing for counseling services that were not provided or billing for group counseling sessions as individual counseling services. The indictment charges all three defendants with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud.

“Health care fraud creates victims out of patients, providers, and taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “It’s a crime that breaks the bonds of trust between doctor and patient, and between government and the people, just for the sake of personal greed.”

“The charges announced today should send a strong message to criminals that theft from vital health care programs will not be tolerated”, said SAC Pugh of HHS Office of Inspector General. “The OIG and our law enforcement partners will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect tax payer dollars that are intended to aid our most vulnerable citizens.”

“Both of these cases are egregious,” said Attorney General DeWine. “In the OICC case, the investigation found that patients underwent dangerous and completely unnecessary medical procedures, and in the Health and Wellness Pharmacy case, the investigation found that people who legitimately needed drug treatment and counseling weren’t getting it – even though the company charged for it. In the midst of the opioid epidemic in Ohio, it is critical that healthcare providers are rendering services that are meant to help Ohioans struggling with addiction.”

“Some of the charges described include medically unnecessary procedures performed which could cause patient harm. This is the most egregious form of health care fraud”, said SAC Byers of the FBI, adding that “Health care fraud contributes to rising health care costs for everyone.”

Today’s nationwide enforcement action is the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, involving 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in false billings. Of those charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests. In addition, HHS has initiated suspension actions against 295 providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the HHS-OIG, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and IRS Criminal Investigation, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth Affeldt and Special Assistant United States Attorney Maritsa Flaherty, who are representing the United States in this case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Ohio Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2014 Murder

PORT CLINTON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced July 21 that a Port Clinton man has been sentenced to prison for stabbing a man to death in 2014.

Ruben Gonzalez, 60, pleaded guilty today to a charge of murder for the October 2014 stabbing death of Jose Villalon, 43, of Millbury. Gonzalez stabbed Villalon 39 times following an argument at Gonzalez’s home on Hoover Drive in Port Clinton.

Following today’s plea, Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters sentenced Gonzalez to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole after 15 years.

The case was investigated by the Port Clinton Police Department, with assistance from a number of different agencies. Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section was appointed to prosecute the case in January 2017. The case was scheduled to go to trial next month.

BROWN, PORTMAN ANNOUNCE POSITIVE RULING IN ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

15,000 American Aluminum Production Workers Have Lost Their Jobs in Last Decade

Senators Urged Secretary Ross to Rule in Favor of U.S. Aluminum Producers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that, at their urging, the Commerce Department has ruled that U.S. aluminum extrusions producers are being harmed by unfair trade practices by foreign competitors. Last month, Brown and Portman wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in support of the Aluminum Extrusions Fair Trade committee in support of their case, urging them to rule against Chinese producers’ use of a new grade of aluminum extrusions to circumvent duties.

“Ohio aluminum workers can compete with anyone – but they need a level playing field,” said Brown. “We’ve got to hold cheaters accountable. This ruling will help crack down on China’s trade abuses and support American workers.”

“I applaud Commerce’s decision to fight back against Chinese efforts to avoid our trade laws and protect American jobs,” said Portman. “Ohio aluminum producers can compete and win against anyone if they get a fair shake, and I will continue to work to ensure they are protected against those who refuse to play by the rules.”

Brown and Portman have worked to give domestic industries the ability to fight unfair trade practices. In June 2015, the Leveling the Playing Field Act, introduced by Brown and cosponsored by Portman, was signed into law, ushering in the most significant changes to trade remedy law since 2002.

Here is text of Brown and Portman’s letter to Ross in June.

June 23, 2017

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Ross:

We write regarding the anti-circumvention petition filed by the Aluminum Extrusions Fair Trade committee and urge you to ensure the Commerce Department’s final determination in the case provides maximum relief to U.S. producers who are being harmed by foreign producers’ unfair trade practices and unlawful attempts to evade duties.

For years, the U.S. aluminum extrusions industry has fought against Chinese producers’ unfair trade practices. Antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties have been in place since 2011 and have provided the domestic industry with some relief, but Chinese producers have continued to harm U.S. extruders by circumventing these orders. As a result, in October 2015, the Aluminum Extrusions Fair Trade Committee filed an anti-circumvention inquiry that asked Commerce to take action against Chinese producers’ use of newly developed 5050-grade aluminum extrusions.

Chinese producers have begun using the new 5050 alloy, typically used only in aluminum sheet and rolls, for aluminum extrusions. Using the 5050 alloy was unheard of before the AD/CVD orders were put in place because without additional treatment the alloy cannot be used in extrusion applications. As a result, extrusions made with the 5050 alloy are not covered by the AD/CVD orders. Chinese producers are altering the mechanical properties of the 5050 alloy so that it can be used for extrusions but still evade the AD/CVD duties. We were pleased that Commerce agreed with domestic producers in its preliminary determination that the Chinese producers developed the new 5050-grade extrusion to circumvent the orders.

The U.S. aluminum extrusions industry is composed of more than 100 individual producers that employ over 30,000 workers throughout the United States, and they cannot compete against producers who use these unfair trade practices. We urge Commerce to quickly issue a final decision in line with the preliminary determination to ensure the Chinese producers’ evasion tactics are stopped and the AD/CVD duties continue to provide the necessary relief to the domestic aluminum extrusions industry.

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Staff Reports