Phil Rudd, drummer for the Australian hard rock band AC/DC and one of the greatest drummers of all time, was acquitted yesterday in a New Zealand District Court of charges that he lied about his prior drug use to obtain a medical certificate to enable him to renew his private pilot’s license, according to the New Zealand Herald. Rudd answered “No” to the question about having any history of drug use on a medical certificate application in 2012.
The answer predictably raised some eyebrows, including with New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority. The article states that Rudd was discovered with 23 grams of marijuana in his home and his boat during a police raid in 2010. Rudd was discharged without a conviction on appeal. Nonetheless, Mr. Rudd, we salute you on beating this latest charge.
“No stop signs, speed limits, nobody’s going to slow me down. I’m on a highway to hell.” – AC/DC
From The Republic comes news that Michael Stein, a pharmacist and owner of Pharmacy Matters in Iowa City, Iowa, was acquitted yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on charges of allegedly fraudulently billing Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield for drugs for hemophilia patients. The government alleged that Mr. Stein billed Wellmark for the drugs when his pharmacy actually did little or no work dispensing the drugs, but instead acted as a “pass through” entity for certain Florida drug companies shipping the drugs to patients.
Stein defended that the patients were entitled to coverage through Wellmark for the drugs, and that the prosecution failed to prove that he intended to defraud Wellmark or made any false statements. Experts at trial disagreed regarding whether the pharmacy provided services for which it could bill Wellmark.
Pharmacy Matters previously sued Wellmark in 2009 after Wellmark refused to pay millions in reimbursements for factor drugs for hemophilia patients, which case involved the same claims as in the criminal case. Just as the judge in the civil case was preparing to rule, however, the government indicted But just as an Iowa judge was preparing to rule last year, Stein was indicted criminally over the claims.
“Law applied to its extreme is the greatest injustice” — Cicero
From 11 Alive News comes a story on Annamalai Annamalai, the former leader of the Hindu Temple of Georgia, who was indicted last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The government alleges that Annamalai allegedly charged Temple members’ credit cards for alleged spiritual services, allegedly often charging the cards multiple times without the members’ permission. When members disputed the alleged charges, Annamalai would allegedly provide the credit card vendors with false documents to support the transactions.
Annamalai is also alleged to have spent large amounts of Temple money on houses and cars, and to have concealed assets from creditors by diverting Temple income to a separate bank account. The Temple, which is now closed, filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Annamalai is alleged to have submitted false affidavits in bankruptcy court. He was arrested in November.
“The only man who makes no mistake is the man who does nothing.” — Theodore Roosevelt
According to FleetOwner.com, last Tuesday, Corey Daniels pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia to charges of conspiring to violate an imminent hazard out-of-service order by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Daniels was charged with aiding Devasko Lewis operate trucking carriers, Eagle Transport and Eagle Trans, after Lewis had been barred from being involved in the operation of trucking companies. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had ordered Lewis, doing business as Lewis Trucking Company, to cease all operations after a crash in Alabama which killed seven people in 2008. Lewis formed another trucking company, DDL Transport LLC, which was also shut down under an imminent hazard order. In 2012, Lewis pled guilty to violating the orders and was sentenced to 12 months’ supervised release, but obtained U.S. Department of Transportation numbers to form Eagle Transport and Eagle Trans using the identities of Daniels and other friends. Daniels and the other conspirators helped Lewis continue operating Eagle Trans after he reported to federal prison in November 2012. Daniels and the other conspirators were indicted in May 2013.
“No man is good enough to govern another man without his consent.” – Abraham Lincoln
On Thursday, as notedin the Modesto Bee, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii directed its verdict in favor of two defendants in the prosecution of a methamphetamine trafficking ring, finding that the government had failed to present any admissible evidence that the defendants were even slightly connected to the alleged conspiracy. Harry Akana and Daniel Fola left the their trial as free men. A common rule relating to alleged conspiracy is that “mere association with conspirators and mere presence at the scene of a crime do not in themselves establish participation in a criminal conspiracy…” U.S. v. Brantley, 68 F.3d 1283, 1288 n.4 (11th Cir. 1995).
Four defendants remain in the trial. The defendants were charged with conspiring to distribute more than 400 pounds of methamphetamine.
In January, the judge, U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi, ruled that the government had been “sloppy” and “tardy” in providing discovery material to the defense, finding that the government had withheld evidence relating to certain witnesses who had testified. The judge sanctioned an Assistant U.S. Attorney for prosecutorial misconduct and referred him to the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence. It is force, and like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” — George Washington
From the website of Bailey & Glasser, comes news that, last Thursday, a jury found David A. Cline, owner of Rock N Roll Coal Company in McDowell County, West Virigina, not guilty on charges of alleged conspiracy and structuring financial transactions at the conclusion of a twelve day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Mr. Cline’s son, Joshua Cline, was also acquitted.
The government alleged that the defendants engaged in a check cashing scheme designed to conceal the withdrawal of more than $10 million. J.D. “Dot” McReynolds, a witness for the government, sold cash to coal operators, with an added 10% fee, and provided them with fraudulent invoices to disguise the cash purchases. McReynolds withdrew the cash from various financial institutions in West Virginia and Virginia in amounts of $10,000 or less in order to avoid transaction reporting requirements, a crime called “structuring” of financial transactions. 16 co-defendants of the Clines entered guilty pleas.
“Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.” ― Leo Tolstoy
As reported in the Palm Beach Post, this past Thursday, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida acquitted Dr. Timothy Sigman, an internist, and pharmacist Peter Del Toro on 44 counts of drug dealing for allegedly operating a steroid ring. The jury deliberated for over six days before returning its verdict.
Dr. Sigman and Del Toro were indicted with five other doctors and others in August of 2011, as part of an investigation called “Operation Juice Doctor 2.” The five other physicians all pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and oxycodone.
However, last month, the Court dismissed charges against the office manager of Treasure Coast Specialty Pharmacy, Del Toro’s pharmacy. And prior to that, the government dismissed approximately 40 charges against Del Toro’s father, a retired police officer.
Prosecutors argued that the defendants were merely drug dealers and pointed to the fact that Dr. Sigman and Del Toro did not charge patients for consultations at the anti-aging clinic they operated, but instead shared profits from drug sales. Dr. Sigman and Del Toro defended that they were passionate about the power of hormone replacement therapy to cure a variety of age-related ills. Defense attorneys accused the government of overreaching. They argued that the physicians who testified against Dr. Sigman and Del Toro were motivated by an expectation of more lenient prison sentences.
As a result of the criminal proceedings, Sigman and Del Toro lost their licences and had to close down their businesses. Dr. Sigman told reporters that he plans to continue hormone replacement therapy once he receives his medical license back.
“A law is valuable not because it is law, but because there is right in it.” -- Henry Ward Beecher
Last Thursday, Dayo Obebe of Columbus, Georgia, entered a plea of guilty to tax evasion in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Obebe, a dentist practicing in Georgia and Alabama, operated Moon Road Cosmetic and Family Dentistry in Columbus and Brent Dental in Bibb County, Alabama, as noted in SF Gate. Obebe was alleged to have underreported income to his businesses by more than $500,000 from 2004 through 2006, and to have evaded more than $185,000 in payments. Obebe could receive up to five years’ imprisonment and $250,000 in fines, and has entered into an agreement with the IRS to pay approximately $190,000 in restitution.
“If you laid all of our laws end to end, there would be no end.” — Mark Twain
While searches and seizures typically require a warrant under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, when a person is arrested, the rule has long been that ”a police officer who makes a lawful arrest may conduct a warrantless search of the arrestee’s person and the area ‘within his immediate control.’” Davis v. U.S., 131 S.Ct. 2419, 2424 (2011) (quoting Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 89 S.Ct. 2034 (1969)). The purpose of the exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement is to prevent the arrestee from obtaining any weapon or destroying evidence within his or her reach.
However, modern technology has enabled the public to carry the equivalent of thousands or millions of documents and other materials on our persons in portable devices including cellphones. As reported in the New York Daily News and elsewhere, on the 17th, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases concerning the issue of whether law enforcement can search an arrestee’s cellphone without a warrant. In the first case, from California, the defendant was convicted for allegedly firing shots at a occupied vehicle in part because of a photograph seized from his cellphone at the time of his arrest which showed the defendant posed in front of a car similar to the one seen at the crime scene. In the second case, from Massachusetts, the defendant’s drug and firearm convictions were reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit after the Court of Appeals held that police officers’ search of the defendant’s cellphone without a warrant was unlawful.
In the other case, the federal government is appealing after an appeals court threw out two of three drugs and firearms counts on which Brima Wurie had been convicted by a jury in Massachusetts. The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a May ruling that officers could not search Wurie’s phone without a warrant after the September 2007 arrest for suspected drug dealing. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the two cases, Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie, in April and issue rulings in the cases by the end of June.
“Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.” — John Adams
In 2008, DEA agents arrested Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in Bangkok, Thailand, during a sting operation in which agents posed as buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC. After a delay of two years in extraditing Bout from Thailand, he was transferred to New York where he was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As noted in a story in the Moscow Times, in November 2011, Bout was officially convicted for conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and officials, as well as sell surface-to-air missiles and other weapons to the FARC, a foreign terrorist organization. Bout was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit affirmed Bout’s conviction.
Bout’s attorney informed the media at a press conference on Friday that Bout will not appeal his sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bout’s lawyer said that his extradition to Russia is not currently possible.
“Law is the embodiment of the moral sentiment of the people.” - Blackstone