Medical Fraud – Leonard Marchetta pleads guilty of prescription drug fraud!

January 16, 2015

LEONARD MARCHETTA, a physician’s assistant, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to distribute a massive quantity of oxycodone out of a Staten Island-based medical clinic he oversaw. During a period of approximately three years, in exchange for cash payments, MARCHETTA wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 30-milligram Leonard Marchettaoxycodone pills to individuals claiming to be “patients,” and on a number of occasions MARCHETTA issued prescriptions in the names of fictitious individuals or individuals whom he had never seen. MARCHETTA was charged in September 2014, and pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “As Leonard Marchetta oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Staten Island clinic where he worked as a physician’s assistant, he also sat at the center of a scheme to dole out medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 oxycodone pills to fake ‘patients.’ His guilty plea today ensures that he will be punished for contributing to the prescription pill abuse epidemic.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made at today’s plea proceeding:

As a physician’s assistant, MARCHETTA, under the supervision of a physician or surgeon, was able to diagnose and treat illnesses and prescribe medications. From at least 2012 until his arrest, MARCHETTA was employed by and oversaw the day-to-day operations of a Staten Island-based medical clinic (the “Clinic”), which advertised itself to the public as a family medical clinic.

During an approximately three-year period, MARCHETTA prescribed oxycodone to “patients” who had no medical need for oxycodone and no legitimate medical record documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed. MARCHETTA’s fee for his participation in the scheme was typically approximately $250 in cash for “doctor visits” that usually lasted just a minute or two, involved no actual physical examination, and consistently resulted in the issuance of a prescription for large doses of oxycodone, typically 150 30-milligram tablets. MARCHETTA also received a separate fee of approximately $500 in cash for each medically unnecessary oxycodone prescription he issued. On a number of occasions, MARCHETTA issued prescriptions in the names of fictitious individuals or individuals whom he never saw in exchange for cash. In total, MARCHETTA wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for more than 125,000 30-milligram oxycodone pills during a period of approximately three years.

As part of the scheme, MARCHETTA’s co-conspirators recruited and paid individuals to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions from MARCHETTA. On a number of occasions, MARCHETTA wrote a prescription in the name of the “patient” without the “patient” setting foot in the Clinic.

After MARCHETTA issued a medically unnecessary oxycodone prescription in the name of the “patient,” the “patient” was taken or referred to a pharmacy to fill the oxycodone prescription – that is, to obtain the oxycodone tablets – in part for distribution. The patients were paid, typically $150 to $200 in cash, for obtaining and handing over the oxycodone tablets that MARCHETTA had prescribed to them. At times, the “patients,” some of whom were addicted to oxycodone, were paid with oxycodone tablets for their services.

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MARCHETTA, 47, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit the proceeds that he received from the scheme. MARCHETTA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on April 16, 2015, at 11:30 a.m. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of MARCHETTA will be determined by the judge.


Ethics? Not a Chance! Rosa Abreu Sentenced to 70 Months In Prison for 9/11 Opportunity Thefts

November 1, 2008

On September 11, 2001 our nation faced a terrible tragedy.  We were attacked from outside our borders.  Unfortunately anytime there is a disaster, some will find the opportunity too great and step outside the bounds of reason and commit fraud.  Such is the case for a former employee of the New York City Medical Examiner’s office who was recently sentenced to 70 months for theft.  Not only was a serious crime committed, but there was an intentional disregard for any semblance of ethical behavior.

According to the US Attorney’s news release:

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) developed an acute need for computer services following the September 11th attacks, when it was assigned the task of identifying victims through the forensic analysis of body parts and other evidence collected at Ground Zero. Many of the OCME’s September 11th-related expenses were reimbursed by FEMA, which provided more than $46 million to OCME in 2002 and 2003.

ABREU was the OCME’s Director of Records and worked as a primary assistant to NATARANJA R. VENKATARAM, the OCME’s Director of Management Information Systems (“MIS”) and ABREU’s co-defendant.

Between 1999 and 2005, VENKATARAM steered more than $13 million in OCME contracts and purchase orders to three companies run by co-conspirator MUHAMMAD NASEH by advising NASEH how much to bid on OCME contracts and arranging for NASEH’s three companies to submit purportedly independent “competing” bids. In the vast majority of cases, NASEH’s companies were paid in full under the OCME contracts but did less work than reported, or no work. Instead, NASEH’s companies would transfer funds to other companies, as directed by VENKATARAM, in exchange for a fee. In other cases, NASEH wrote checks according to VENKATARAM’s directions, or provided VENKATARAM with signed but otherwise blank checks from the NASEH companies for VENKATARAM to use as he saw fit. ABREU helped VENKATARAM launder the proceeds of this scheme through shell companies that ABREU established and maintained. At VENKATARAM’s direction, millions of dollars in funds paid by OCME to NASEH’s companies were used for VENKATARAM’s and ABREU’s personal benefit.

It is reported that ABREU was VENKATARAM’s girlfriend.

The question may be asked, what happened?  Fraud requires three components.  For lack of a better way to put it, fraud is a bit like baking – a cake for example.  A cake requires the right ingredients.  If any one is missing, then you can’t accomplish the bakers task.  If you leave out eggs, for example, the cake will be undesirable.  Well, in fraud, the three critical components are: (1) need (or perceived need); (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization.

Now, I can’t begin to speak to the issues of need or rationalization, but the obvious is that due to the events of 9/11 “opportunity” came knocking at their door.  A substantial inflow of cash – $46 million to be exact – is enough to tempt anyone.  Mind you just because there is a large sum of money, previously unavailable, does not mean that everyone will respond to the potential temptation.  But, I will say, after studying people and white collar crime, it is likely that any thing out of the ordinary – especially in mass quantity, will bring out the devil in many.

My guess…and let me be clear, it is only a guess…is that those involved felt that they were under pressure, under paid and could not resist the temptation for taking what they rationalized should be theirs.  Now…IF YOU KNOW ANY REPORTED ON HERE…your comments are welcome – as I may be wrong.

VENKATARAM pleaded guilty on October 30, 2007 to one count of conspiracy, one count of embezzlement and misapplication of funds from OCME, and fourteen counts of money laundering. He was sentenced on July 11, 2008 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture in the amount of $2,970,072.

One thing is a fact, EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE!  That I know as I have been where these men are going and know that my poor choices got me a prison sentence as well.

I was once told, “You made a serious mistake, but YOU are not a mistake!”  I took those words to heart and after paying my debt to society, I turned my life around such that today I speak nationwide about Choices and Consequences.  Perhaps these men can learn and use their talents for productive use once free.


Politics, Religion and Ethics – Obama’s Presidential Campaign and Messages from the Pulpit!

October 27, 2008

Let me begin by saying, this writing is 100% about law, ethics and the application of the law.  I am in no way, taking a political stand through the content of this entry.  Rather, I am amazed as what I believe is the flagrant violation of the law when it comes to influencing votes in this presidential campaign.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.  Now, that definition is broad and clearly subject to interpretation.  However, good and bad must also be judged in accordance with the law.  One might judge a particular action to be good and ethical, but that same action might be against the law.  Hence, regardless of opinion, the action is unethical.

So, what does this have to do with the election?  Well…it is generally presumed to be against the law for a non-profit religious organization to use their pulpit (I use that term loosly) to influence public opinion for election results or outcome.   Non-profit religious organization can lose their non-profit status if they openly work to endorse a political candidate.  This loss could be costly indeed.

So how would one know if such a thing is happening?  Funny you should ask.  But today I received information about the link I am providing.  It was sent to me raising a question as to what my opinion was related to ethics, politics and the law.  What I saw was amazing – a flagrant disregard for the law and the non-profit status at stake.

PLEASE NOTE:  The following, should you decide to watch, is anti-Obama.  The message is clear.  What is more serious is that someone would knowingly and publically risk the non-profit status with such a clear political message.

Judge for yourself.  Here’s the link.  The message is from ATLAH World Ministries and it’s steamy.  Again, I express no opinion other than the amazement as to the message and risk inherent in its delivery.

WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the IRS to investigate the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J. and Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico.

According to AU’s letter to the IRS, Roman Catholic Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli has published a letter on Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J.’s website and newspaper attacking Barack Obama.”

The letter criticizes Obama for his pro-choice stance and encourages parishioners not to vote for Obama.

AU also wants the IRS to investigate Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico for posting a large display that encourages voters to support republican candidates over democratic candidates.

In my opinion, what the above mentioned organizations have done is small change in contract to the ATLAH video.

An NPR article states the following:

On Sunday, 33 ministers will take part in a nationwide effort to violate the 54-year-old ban on political preaching and endorse or oppose a candidate from the pulpit. The effort is called the Pulpit Initiative.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 pastors squeezed into a hotel meeting room in Washington, D.C., to learn about the Pulpit Initiative, a brain child of the conservative legal group, Alliance Defense Fund. Attorney Erik Stanley walked them through it.

“If the IRS chooses to come after these churches, we will sue the IRS in federal court,” Stanley said.

Stanley says pastors are fed up. In the past four years, the IRS has stepped up its investigations of clergy. It sent letters to 47 churches, including some liberal ones — not just for explicit endorsements, but also for using code words like pro-choice or pro-life in relation to candidates.

“What’s been happening is that the government has been able to go into the pulpits of America, look over the pastor’s shoulder, and parse the content of their sermon. And that’s unconstitutional,” Stanley said. “No government official should entangle itself with religion in that way.”

HERE’S THE QUESTION FOR YOU – THE READER:  Which is ethical – (1) for the church to follow the dictates of the law and avoid endorsing or disparaging a politicial candidate or (2) to make a “good” decision based on a moral duty and obligation (in the face of the law)?

If you watch the ATLAH video…come back to this site and share your opinion.  Otherwise, your comments welcome on the ethics of religion and politics.


Darren Reagan – Choices and Consequences That Include Prison! Comments by Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

October 12, 2008

In June of 2008 Darren Reagan was convicted of theft of public money – a federal offense. On October 8th, 2008 he was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison. But this is not the end for Reagan, as he will face additional charges and a hearing in January 2009 for other alleged offenses.

As a business ethics speaker, I remind audiences around the nation that every choice has a consequence. More times than not, we might make simple (unethical or illegal) choices that seem innocent at the time, with the full intent on paying back. Reality is, however, you cannot escape the consequence of the choices made. I know and speak from experience, as it was thirteen years ago to the month that I took my first steps into federal prison for the choices that I made.

According to the US Attorneys Office:

Reagan, who is currently in federal custody, is also a defendant in the Dallas City Hall corruption investigation case, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of extortion by public officials, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of tax evasion. That case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2009.

At trial, the jury found that from October 1, 2002, through September 1, 2007, Reagan knowingly stole approximately $45,000 in rental housing assistance payments from the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) in connection with the rental of certain property to his mother-in-law, Leatha Kirven. Reagan falsely claimed to the DHA that he had no blood, marital, or other familiar relationship to Ms. Kirven, and as such, caused DHA to pay him housing assistant payments to which he was not entitled.

Mrs. Kirven testified in a videotaped deposition taken from her hospital room that she knew that when she signed up for the Section 8 housing assistance with Mr. Reagan, that she knew it was against the rules. She also testified that she told federal agents, when questioned by them two years ago, that she knew it was wrong.

Darren L. Reagan is also a defendant in the Dallas City Hall corruption investigation case, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of extortion by public officials, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of tax evasion. That case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2009.

Politics and Ethics – A Question

Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. Now if that is generally true – that ethical choices are defined as those choices that deal with a moral duty and obligation, then the question is can ethics and politics truly go hand in hand?

Some would, of course, say yes. I’ve heard it said that ethical people are always ethical. However, from my experience personally and in observing the behavior of others, I am not sure that is true. I have come to believe that ethical or moral people can become so tempted that they make unethical or bad decisions. And, speaking from experience, the first decision although mentally difficult is the one that paves the way for more to follow.

So here me out and please, with your comments, answer this question! I submit that Darren Reagan started out being a good man. Like most of us, he likely had his flaws, but I bet there are those who would read this and vouch that Reagan was a good man. If that is so, then what happened that caused an otherwise good man to make choices that ended him up with a home in federal prison? Could it be that the power of politics proved to be too much temptation?

Those who have a connection to this case – your comments are welcome!


FBI Mortgage Fraud Investigation – Too Little Too Late? Is This Smoke and Mirrors or the Real Thing?

September 24, 2008

For some time I have been writing and speaking about white collar crime, business ethics and the issue of mortgage fraud.  Then we have the issues that have surfaced over the past several weeks culminating with the President’s address tonight.  A major recession (I’d call it a depression) is facing us if we don’t do something now.

Now just may be too late.  Many individuals and firms have either gone under or become the target of a massive FBI investigation into mortgage fraud over the past several years.  But at the heart of this entire mess is the government and their failure to provide oversight and accountability.  It seemed that a robust economy balanced on the back of home ownership was more important than practical long term ethical decisions that fall on the backs of our elected officials.  (And for anyone who feels that I am leaning one way or the other politically – I feel there is plenty of blame for all elected officials).

Now we find in published reports that the FBI is expanding it’s investigation of major institutions whose names have been at the heart of the meltdown we are today witnessing.

According to CNN:

The FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG – and their executives – as part of a broad look into possible mortgage fraud, sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Tuesday.

Two officials with knowledge of the FBI investigation into the mortgage crisis said “the investigation is all very preliminary”. They said there is a lot of anger and people want someone held accountable.

Officials are looking into whether any criminal activity occurred, but the Bureau said the investigation will take some time. They said the investigation is in the preliminary stages, and so far it is a broad look at the companies involved.

“From what I’ve seen so far, I really don’t believe we’re going to find widespread fraud,” according to one of the officials. They said they have to go where evidence and facts lead. Just because an investigation has been opened doesn’t mean there will be charges.

Trust me – there will not be charges.  The FBI investigation (done by well meaning people) is just a political smoke screen so that those who want accountability will feel that something is being done.  Frankly, nothing substantive will be done to hold those most accountable for this financial failure responsible.

As reported in my prior blog entries, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that 1,400 individual real estate lenders, brokers and appraisers are now under investigation in addition to two dozen corporations.  What is of most interest is that the focus is on small time fish and a big sea of corruption.

Greenspan told Congress sometime in the recent past that something must be done with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae or we would face a meltdown and grave financial crisis.  His prediction has come true.  What’s sad is that our politicians from both sides of the isle did not have the fortitude to step up and do the right thing.  Rather, they buried their head in the sand and now find that they are drowning in a sea of financial misfortune.

ENRON’s leaders were held criminally liable for their financial misdeeds.  This collapse makes the ENRON mess pale in comparison.  Yet, since government backed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are at the heart of the problem – both backing poor loans and selling them to the market – there will be nothing criminal to come from this.  The government doesn’t have the will or courage to regulate itself – nor the ethical wisdom to do what is right.

Cynical – well not really.  Practical – yes.  This $700 billion dollar plan will in the end cost $3 TRILLION…just wait and see.  Meanwhile, there is a long winter ahead and the chill we will feel won’t just be the weather.

QUESTION:  Do you believe the FBI will find anyone in any major institution recently names held criminally liable?


Financial Meltdown? Where Were Our Government Leader’s Ethics? Comments by Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

September 23, 2008

The words are “urgent action” as uttered by those in financial leadership in our country.  Action needs to be taken in order to avoid a financial meltdown.  Somehow, I would suspect that words similar to that were uttered immediately before the Great Depression.  Have we learned nothing from past history?

According to CNN:

“You know, I share the outrage that people have,” said Paulson. “It’s embarrassing to look at this, and I think it’s embarrassing to the United States of America.”

“There is a lot of blame to go around – a lot of blame with big financial institutions that engaged in this irresponsible lending … blame to the people who made loans they shouldn’t have made, people who took out loans they shouldn’t have taken out,” said Paulson, who served as CEO of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs for seven years before he became Treasury Secretary in 2006.

Now I’m confused.  Treasury Secretary Paulson is a smart man…otherwise he would not have lead Goldman Sachs and been named Treasury Secretary.  Yet, now we face one of the most significant financial crisis of our generation and times and at the heart of the issue are actions taken by aggressive financial institutions.

“Blame to the people who made loans they shouldn’t have…”  Secretary Paulson shame.  Blame to the people.  The people don’t have control over what loans are available and which loans are marketed to them.  I agree there should be blame, but to blame people who responded to sophisticated marketing campaigns that were promulgated by financial institutions who have huge profits to earn is absurd!

The “people” bought what you sold and only by the grace of the federal reserve is your former company – Goldman Sachs still in business.  The sad reality is – we are where we are due to misguided efforts and actions by those institutions (financial and government) who should have known better.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is reported to have said that the central bank would prefer that the government not have to take an active role in raising capital needed by financial firms. But he said there was no alternative given current market conditions.

“Action by the Congress is urgently required to stabilize the situation and avert what otherwise could be very serious consequences for our financial markets and for our economy,” Bernanke said.

Ethics are defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.  As an Ethics Speaker, I feel that those who lead have not only a moral duty but a supreme obligation to do what is good and in the best interest of those they serve.  At this moment the debate in Washington, DC directly relates to doing what is in the “good and best interest” of those they serve.  Sad that we had to arrive on the brink of a financial disaster in order for our leaders to take notice.

We can all make mistakes.  Leaders are not perfect.  But as I say in ever Ethics presentation I make – Every Choice Has A Consequence.  This is no different.  The self-serving profiteering choices of the past – loaning money to those who could not afford it and driving an economy on the back of those who are now blamed – is unethical and wrong.  I submit that had the same actions been made on a small scale – the government would have charged those involved with fraud and it would have been a “white collar crime” example.  But this is too big and now it is called a mistake with our top financial leaders and institutions being bailed out.

What do you think – Goldman, Merrill, Lehman, AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – the government’s oversight – ethical or unethical?

An interesting commentary by Ron Paul can be found here…you might want to take a look.


Massive Government Bail-Out … Good Business or Bad Ethics? Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments…

September 19, 2008

Unless you are on an island somewhere disconnected from society…you are no doubt aware that we are in the midst of one of the most massive government bail outs in US history!  While I wasn’t around during the great depression – from everything we read what is taking place now is second only to that and, folks, that is amazing.  I was around during the massive savings and loan scandal and, like most who read, know that we are far from over with this one.  In fact, I don’t know of many institutions (Savings and Loans that is) who did survive.  

If the past is to be repeated, our financial climate or landscape will be dramatically different in several years.  Further, seldom does the government estimate a number that is right.  You can count on the cost being several times what is proposed today.  200 Billion will likely be a drop in the bucket when it is all said and done.  

For months I have been reporting on mortgage frauds and the number seems to keep increasing.  Clearly, the “greed is good” mentality went far beyond the crooks who are being prosecuted today and spread far and wide.  The net is being cast wide for this financial disaster and many will not survive.

The question, however, here is – should the government being doing what it is doing.  Many popular writers of financial books say – YES.  “What took them so long?”  Yet others claim that the government has no business getting involved in private business – especially when there are companies who perhaps engaged in unethical behavior – knowing full well that the products they were selling would result in financial disaster for many.  When you loan money to someone who cannot afford to make the payments you are committing a financial unethical act.  Sure there is short term profit, but at what cost?   

What’s your opinion:  (1)  Were the financial institutions unethical in their actions related to the sub-prime mortgage issue? (2)  Should the government have taken the actions that are now underway?  (3) Would it have been better to let the free market take it’s own corrective action and let the chips fall where they may?

Good business or bad ethics – what’s your call?