412 caught in massive health care fraud probe
The Department of Justice announced that the largest health care fraud enforcement action in history resulted in charges against 412 individuals, including 115 doctors and nurses, who collectively bilked Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE out of $1.3 billion. Of those charged, 120 were accused of prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics to patients who had no legitimate need for them. “Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Healthcare fraud is not only a criminal act that costs billions of taxpayer dollars—it is an affront to all Americans who rely on our national healthcare programs for access to critical healthcare services,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said.
Lifer gets 29 years for drug trafficking
Daniel Alo, 46, who is serving a life sentence in a Georgia prison, will be transferred to a federal penitentiary to serve a 29-year sentence for running a drug gang from his state prison cell. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Alo recruited members of several gangs both inside and out of the prison, and used drones and corrupt guards to smuggle phones and contraband into the prison. A 2015 sting operation resulted in the seizure of 11 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and $600,000 in currency and led to the arrest and conviction of Ronnie Music who won $3 million in the Georgia lottery and used part of the money to buy narcotics for Alo’s gang.
Tobacco giant accused of undermining United Nations treaty
Philip Morris International, the cigarette-making subsidiary of tobacco and food giant Altria Group Inc., was accused of waging a secretive campaign to undermine a United Nations anti-smoking treaty. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said a Reuters news investigation revealed how the giant tobacco company, which is based in Richmond, Va., has conducted efforts to block international efforts to curb tobacco use while simultaneously claiming the company is committed to a “smoke-free future.”
Science agency urges strategy to reduce opioid use
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said that reversing the effects of illicit use of addictive opioid medicines will require years of sustained and coordinated efforts. A report, which was requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, claims it’s possible to stem the escalating use of opioids without foreclosing legitimate access to the narcotic drug by patients suffering from pain.
Robocaller hit with $2.88 million fine
Dialing Services, the operator of an automatic telephone call facility in Roswell, N.M., was fined $2.88 million for facilitating millions of illegal robocalls to mobile phones without consumers’ consent, the Federal Communications Commission said. The company was warned in 2013 that it could be held liable for compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for calls made on behalf of its customers. An investigation determined that the company continued making illegal robocalls after it received the warning.
NarcoBoss faces fentanyl charges
Henry Koffie, 32, of Darby, Pa., is facing charges that he imported and distributed wholesale quantities of fentanyl, a narcotic that is 50 times more powerful than heroin and requires law enforcement officers to take hazardous material precautions when coming into contact with it. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Koffie completed more than 3,700 sales of “China White Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl Mix” through his dark website on the AlphaBay marketplace where he referred to himself as “NarcoBoss.”
33 rescued from locked trailer
Border patrol agents at Laredo, Tex., ordered a secondary inspection of a trailer after questioning the driver about his immigration status. When they broke open its locked doors, the agents found 33 illegal aliens inside, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. The driver, who turned out to be a U.S. citizen, was arrested to face human trafficking charges. The aliens, who were Mexican and Guatemala nationals, will be deported back to their home countries.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Thursday, July 13