Heiferman & Associates, PLLC discusses state and federal authorities' current efforts to shut down healthcare fraud.

State and Federal Authorities’ Efforts to Shut down Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud costs the state and federal governments billions of dollars in taxpayer money. This means that there is obviously a big incentive for the government to crack down on this type of crime. There has been a significant increase in concerted efforts of the government to target and prevent potential healthcare frauds. Investigations and criminal charges have been aggressively brought and the government is looking to make an example out of those suspected of healthcare fraud violations.

Healthcare fraud may involve defrauding private or public health insurers. The two public healthcare insurers are Medicaid and Medicare. Both patients and healthcare providers may be the perpetrators of healthcare fraud. Doctors, Pharmacists, and other medical professionals are often the targets of criminal investigations. A doctor may be suspected of billing for unneeded procedures or overcharging patients. They may also be suspected of filing duplicate claims for services that were already rendered or billing for non-covered services as if they were covered services. Any of these actions means that the medical professional may be held responsible for or perpetrating the crime of healthcare fraud.

Federal Authorities Efforts to Shut down Healthcare Fraud Results in Arrest of Five New York Medical Providers

With increased efforts by federal authorities to shut down the perpetration of healthcare fraud, five suspects were taken into custody at the end of September. Among those suspects was a city neurologist. The licensed neurologist, Dr. Denny Martin, was arrested on September 26th on allegations that he participated in a scheme to bill Medicaid for over 3,000 fraudulent claims filed between the years of 2015 and 2019. The majority of the fraudulent claims filed come from alleged home health and podiatry visits. Numerous federal law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation, including, but not limited to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY); Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division;  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA); and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, (HHS-OIG).

Additionally, anesthesiologist Dr. Anna Steiner has been accused of playing a role in an alleged $17.4 million scheme involving kickbacks paid in return for prescribing prescription medication and medical equipment and ordering diagnostic tests, all seemingly unnecessary or ordered without a doctor’s consultation. Dr. Steiner has been charged with healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

Additionally, a registered nurse at the Nassau University Medical Center pleaded guilty to possession of a synthetic opioid after stealing drugs from his workplace. Pharmacist Andrew Barrett, previously convicted of healthcare fraud back in 2016, and pharmacy owner Phyllis Pincus were both indicted for allegedly filing false claims with Medicare and Medicaid for medicines that were never dispensed to patients.

Healthcare Fraud Defense Counsel

Those convicted of healthcare fraud face severe potential penalties. A person found guilty of this crime stands to serve jail or prison time and pay fines of up to $250,000 per offense. A court may also order payment of restitution for any amount that the defendant profited from the crime. Additionally, the defendant may likely face loss of professional licensure. Not only are the penalties for healthcare fraud severe, but the effects of having this on your criminal record are also likely to follow you indefinitely. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Heiferman & Associates PLLC know the severity of what their clients are up against when facing criminal charges in state and federal courts. We take our duty to you seriously and fight for you every step of the way. Contact us today.

Heiferman & Associates, PLLC gives an overview of what is involved in New York field sobriety tests.

Field Sobriety Tests

New York saw 5,857 people injured in alcohol-related crashes in 2016 alone. Needless to say, the state takes Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases very seriously and the sentence for those convicted often reflects this. If you are facing a DWI charge, you may have been subjected to a standardized DWI field sobriety test. These tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in the 1970s and are used to help law enforcement determine whether a driver has been operating his or her vehicle while intoxicated.

What Are the Standardized DWI Field Sobriety Tests in New York?

There are three separate standardized field sobriety tests (SFST’s) that are used in New York. Law enforcement officers are required to participate in 24 hours of training prior to becoming certified to perform standardized field sobriety tests during stops that have occurred due to DWI suspicion. The three tests are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • Walk and turn
  • One-leg stand

With the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the police officer observes the eye reactions of the suspect. Nystagmus refers to the involuntary rapid movement and/or jerking of a person’s eye does when subject to a stimulus. The jerking is likely to increase when there is alcohol present in an individual’s bloodstream. The suspect will be directed to remove their glasses if wearing them, feet together, hands at sides, and keep the head still while looking at and tracking a stimulus with the eyes only. Usually, a finger or a pen is used as the stimulus and is kept approximately 12 inches from the person’s nose. The person must follow the finger or pen’s movements with the eyes only; no turning of the head. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is said to be the most reliable of the standardized DWI field sobriety tests. It is important when building a defense, to note that some people have natural eye nystagmus when sober. 

The walk and turn tests require the test subject to take 9 heel-to-toe steps across a line in one direction and back. The person should be instructed to keep his or her eyes on the feet and count each step out loud. Arms should be kept at the sides. The police officer will look to see if the person is having difficulty staying balanced or following any of the instructions as an indication that the individual is, in fact, intoxicated.

With the one-leg stand test, the person will lift one leg slightly off the ground, about six inches, and stand on the other leg. The raised foot should be pointed out and both legs should be straight with the individual looking down at the raised foot. The officer will be looking for several things that may indicate the individual is intoxicated. The person may be swaying while trying to balance. He or she may be using arms to balance or need to put the foot down. Hopping is also a potential indication of intoxication.

Trust DWI Defense Counsel

The accuracy of field sobriety tests can be challenged on many levels as can other evidence that may have been gathered in order to charge and convict you of a DWI. Heiferman & Associates is here to challenge this evidence and work to prevent a DWI charge from becoming a DWI conviction. Contact us today.

Posted in DWI
Heiferman & Associates, PLLC discusses how the USCIS seeks to limit asylum applicants from working while their applications are still pending.

USCIS Seeks to Limit Asylum Applicants’ Ability to Work While Their Applications Are Pending

This week, there was yet another update released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). reporting that they are proposing a new regulation. This new regulation will restrict asylum seekers’ ability to obtain work authorizations while involved in immigration court proceedings.  Their goal is to “promote greater accountability in the application process for requesting employment authorization and to deter the fraudulent filing of asylum applications for the purpose of obtaining employment authorization documents,” per their notice. 

Immigration agencies have been instructed to block unauthorized immigrants from obtaining employment authorization before being granted relief from deportation and to revoke work permits from immigrants denied asylum or ordered removed. In late April, an executive memo was issued asking USCIS to provide proposals to limit work permits for asylum seekers who crossed the border without authorization.

Typically, asylum applicants may petition for employment authorization documents once 150 days have passed since they filed their application, unless they are responsible for delays in the process.  The wait time to obtain work authorization often leads to financial crisis for many of these asylum applicants. Their living conditions are frequently well below the poverty line; they live in crowded conditions, with limited access to food and medical care. 

Several immigration advocacy groups, including the New York Immigration Coalition and the immigration legal services project Immigrant Justice Corps, voiced their opinions on the negative impact of the work permit delays at USCIS. Asylum seekers who are unable to work face difficulties supporting themselves and their families. As such, numerous immigration legal service coalitions and organizations have filed or threatened to file lawsuits in various Federal District Courts to protect these immigrants. Central to their arguments is that the ability for these people to work, not only is beneficial to the U.S. economy, but also to the lives of these asylum applicants and their families. 

The proposed regulations do not take effect immediately and must still go through a legislative process. Furthermore, people seeking asylum are considered LEGAL immigrants. 

Heiferman & Associates, PLLC provides experienced representation for immigrants in  removal proceedings at immigration courts (EOIR) throughout New York, New Jersey and all over the country.  We also assist new immigrants in applying for asylum with USCIS. (Note: It is crucial an asylum application is filed within an immigrants first year of entry.) Many applicants are unaware of their rights when filing  asylum applications. For this reason we are quick to mount defenses and/or avoid problems associated with the ever-changing immigration policies. Our immigration attorneys are experienced and always on top of the latest immigration conditions in the country. Obtaining experienced and competent legal counsel is crucial to the success rate of these applications. 

Heiferman & Associates operates a full-service Immigration Department that is here to assist clients with a variety of immigration applications and visas including, but not limited to, Asylum, Cancellation of Removal, ICE Detentions, Family-Based (Marriage) Green Cards, Employment Visas and Green Cards (H1-B, EB, TN and O),  Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ), Victims of Violence (U Visas), Trafficking Visas and many more. Please call (or email) our office for a confidential consultation. 

Heiferman & Associates, PLLC discussed drug possession charges of controlled substances in New York.

New York Drug (Controlled Substance) Possession Charges

For the prosecution to obtain a conviction for drug possession (or sale) in New York, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was knowingly and unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance. The possession of the illicit drug does not need to be physical. It may be constructive, meaning that the defendant was in control of the person or place where the drug was found. This means that the defendant does not necessarily need to be physically present when and where the drugs are found. Drug possession charges will largely depend on the type and amount of drug at issue. The level of charge will also determine the potential penalties a defendant will face. New York drug laws are notoriously tough, some of the toughest in the United States. Criminal offenses involving controlled substances are usually felonies and carry severe penalties in the form of fines and extended periods of incarceration.

What Are the Different Types of New York Drug Possession Charges?

The type and penalties associated with your New York drug possession charge will be determined by several factors, including:

  • The illegal substance involved
  • The amount of illegal substance involved
  • Whether the illegal substance was being sold or intended to be sold
  • Whether there were firearms seized with the illegal substance
  • Whether the defendant had any prior convictions (any felonies, especially)

If you are found in possession of 8 or more ounces of a narcotic drug or a substance containing a narcotic drug, or in possession of 5,760 milligrams of methadone, you may face a Class A-1 felony charge. The potential penalty for these charges ranges from 8 to 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and forfeiture of money and property related to criminal conduct. A drug possession charge, under lesser circumstances, may be charged as Class C or D felonies, punishable by 3 – 9 years and 2 ⅓ – 7 years, respectively, for first-time offenders.

The type of controlled substance and the amount of drug you are found to possess has a big impact on the type of charge and potential penalties. For instance, unlawfully possessing marijuana for a first time offender will mean a citation and a $100 fine. It is not even considered to be a criminal charge in New York. If you are found to be in possession of more than 25 grams of marijuana or using marijuana in a public place, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Possession of greater than 8 ounces is punishable by a felony.

In contrast, if you are found to be in possession of even a small amount of cocaine, you may face up to 15 years in prison and fines upwards of $500,000. Furthermore, a charge of possession with intent to distribute may be assessed depending on the number of drugs you are found to have been in control of. Penalties for possession with intent to distribute are very serious and can be much more severe than a mere possession charge. A conviction for ANY controlled substance charges, including misdemeanors, can lead to serious immigration consequences and deportation.

The sentencing guidelines above are always subject to change. 

Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting for You

If you are facing a drug possession charge, don’t lose hope. There are many ways to successfully defend against such charges so that they are dropped or the potential sentence can be reduced. A prosecutor must prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a heavy burden to carry. Heiferman & Associates is here to advocate for you. We will fight against all the charges you face. Contact us today.

Heiferman & Associates discusses the punishments for misdemeanors.

Punishments for Misdemeanors

Most states categorize crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. New York falls in line with this. Felonies are considered to be more serious crimes than misdemeanors and the relative sentences that come with these crimes reflect that. Felonies carry more substantial prison sentences and fines than misdemeanors. Additionally, a felony conviction may result in a loss of civil rights such as voting rights and the ability to keep some professional licenses or hold certain public offices. While misdemeanors may not have penalties as severe as felonies, they still carry serious and lasting consequences that should not be taken lightly.

What are the Punishments for Misdemeanors?

New York has three different classes of misdemeanors. There are Class A, Class B, and unclassified misdemeanors. Each of these classes has maximum penalties assigned to it. Some offenses may have statutorily required sentences to impose but most people convicted of a misdemeanor will be sentenced by a court to pay a fine, to do jail time, or both. There are also certain circumstances where a court will consider alternatives to jail time, such as probation.

 Class A misdemeanors are just one step down from a felony-level crime and are the most serious misdemeanor offenses. Class A misdemeanors include crimes such as:

  • Petit larceny
  • Carrying a gun without a permit
  • Second-degree criminal impersonation
  • Unauthorized radio transmission
  • Third-degree identity theft
  • Forcible touching
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Assault in the 3rd degree

If you are convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you could go to jail for up to one year and be fined up to $1,000.  The court has discretion in sentencing and the severity of the punishment will largely depend on factors such as the severity of the crime committed and the number of prior offenses the defendant has on record.

Class B misdemeanors are considered to be less serious than Class A misdemeanor offenses. Examples of Class B misdemeanors include:

  • Issuing a bad check
  • Fortune-telling
  • Prostitution
  • Unlawful assembly
  • Prostitution
  • Harassment in the 1st degree

If you are convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, you face a possible jail sentence of up to 3 months and up to $500 in fines.

The category of unclassified misdemeanors includes misdemeanors ranging in severity. Conviction of an unclassified misdemeanor will require a jail sentence and/or payment of a fine that is set forth by the law or ordinance that defines the offense committed. Commonly committed unclassified misdemeanors include several serious driving offenses, such as:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Reckless driving
  • Aggravated unlicensed driving

Courts exercise discretion in sentencing many individuals convicted of misdemeanor offenses. The severity of the crime committed is taken into consideration. The criminal history of the defendant will also be taken into consideration. The first time, non-violent offenders will often be granted some leniency in sentencing. A court may choose alternate sentences for a convicted individual. This could mean probation and community service in lieu of jail time. 

Our Queens Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

In addition to fines, jail time, probation, and community service facing those convicted of a felony, there are other lasting consequences of the conviction. For instance, a misdemeanor conviction will end up on a criminal record. This means that whenever you have a background check, whether it be for employment purposes or housing purposes, the misdemeanor conviction will come up. At Heiferman & Associates, we fight for our clients. We rigorously defend our clients to help prevent a criminal charge from becoming a criminal conviction. Contact us today.

Justin Heiferman Featured in Travel Weekly – Operator arrested, charged with grand larceny and fraud

Jerry Cummings, aka Andrew Cummings, operator of Hempstead, N.Y.-based Sunshine Vacations and Celebrity Travel, was arrested for allegedly defrauding at least 40 clients of Magic Carpet Travel of Tecumseh, Ontario, according to Diane Peress, bureau chief of economic crimes of the Nassau County, N.Y., District Attorneys office.

Click Here to read the full article

Justin Heiferman Featured in New York Daily News – Man stunned over news that the eels in his possession were stolen, claims he’s innocent, says lawyer

An accused thief was shocked to learn the eels he was carting in a U-Haul were stolen, his lawyer said Tuesday.

“He’s vehemently telling me he’s innocent,” Justin Heiferman, who reps Wei Da Li, said at the man’s arraignment late Tuesday in Brooklyn Criminal Court. “He does not know anything was stolen.”

Click Here to read the full article

Justin Heiferman featured in Travel Weekly – N.Y.-based tour operator arrested for third time on fraud charges

Investigators of the Nassau County District Attorneys office arrested Jerry Cummings, aka Andrew Cummings, operator of Hempstead, N.Y.-based Sunshine Vacations and Celebrity Travel, on grand larceny in the third and fourth degrees and scheme to defraud, according to a statement from Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Click Here to read the full article