Thursday, August 9, 2012

Medicare Fraud Carries Stiff Prison Sentences

A former husband and wife will spend the next three years in separate prison cells for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of approximately $4 million.  In addition, they will lose a home, pay $480,000 to a State Medicaid program, and spend another three years on supervised release.

Leonid and Yelena Stolyar pleaded guilty in a federal court in Colorado to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering.  The government alleged that they submitted false claims to government healthcare programs for durable medical equipment.  Cooperating beneficiaries provided evidence of false and fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare and Medicaid, including some claims for equipment that was never provided to the beneficiary.

According to the government, the former couple exacerbated the situation by continuing to bill Medicare and Medicaid even after the wife pleaded guilty and was excluded from participating in federal healthcare programs.  The government alleged that they did this by concealing the fact that the wife was still involved in, and benefiting from, their durable medical equipment business.

Part of the evidence against the former couple came from their divorce settlement -- which acknowledged the wife's ownership interest in the durable medical equipment business and provided that she would still receive income from that business even after she was excluded from federal government healthcare programs.

The moral of the story is:  Do not try to play games with the government.  If you are being investigated by the government for healthcare fraud, or if you believe that your employer is engaged in healthcare fraud, then you should consult with an experienced lawyer immediately.  To schedule a free initial consultation by telephone or in person, call my office today at (212) 601-2728 or click here to communicate with me via email.

John Howley
New York, New York

Sources: U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado, Press Release

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Regulating Indecency on Television: The Supreme Court Says Yes and No

The U.S. Supreme Court this week threw out penalties against television stations that violated the Federal Communications Commission policy regulating curse words and nudity on television airwaves.  The case was FCC v. Fox TelevisionStations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a unanimous Court that the FCC’s actions violated due process because the agency failed to give broadcasters “fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent.” 

The dispute arose out of a change in enforcement policy.  In 2001, the FCC announced that it would no longer punish fleeting and isolated uses of expletives.  In this case, however, the FCC did impose penalties for fleeting nudity on the television drama NYPD Blue and the use of the “F-word” by Cher and Nicole Richie on awards shows.

While striking down the penalties in this case on the ground that the enforcement policies did not give broadcasters sufficient notice of actionable conduct, the Court stated that the FCC was “free to modify its current indecency policy in light of its determination of the public interest and applicable legal requirements.”

The Court declined to issue a broader ruling on the Constitutionality of the FCC's indecency policies under the First Amendment.  As a result, the ruling does not change the FCC’s substantive authority to regulate indecency on broadcast television.

An interesting side note is that this dispute arose out of events that happened about a decade ago, in 2002 and 2003.  Broadcasters had argued in this case that the indecency regulations, which apply only to broadcast channels, were obsolete in light of the diversity of media available through the Internet, cable and satellite television, smart phones and related devices.

Given the speed with which technology and media are changing, it is fair to ask what technology and media will look like a decade from now, and whether a substantive legal challenge initiated today will be upheld if the Supreme Court finally gets the issue in about 2022.

New York, New York


Friday, February 3, 2012

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance Promotes "Ductless" Heating and Cooling

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) recently announced the winner of the $10,000 grand prize in its "Discover Ductless" campaign. The campaign encouraged homeowners to upgrade their inefficient electric heating with ductless heating and cooling systems. These systems heat and cool at a fraction of the cost of electric baseboard and wall heaters, typically saving homeowners 25 to 50 percent on heating bills.

Ductless heating and cooling systems
are reversible, 2-way heat pumps that use electricity to transfer heat between outdoor and indoor air by compressing and expanding refrigerant. Using a refrigerant vapor compression cycle, like a common household refrigerator, ductless systems collect heat from outside the house and deliver it inside on the heating cycle, and vice versa on the cooling cycle.

Ductless systems use variable speed compressors with “inverter technology” (AC to DC) in order to continuously match the heating/cooling load, avoiding the on/off cycling of conventional electric resistance and central heating systems that is commonly associated with uncomfortable temperature variations and high energy consumption.

As the name suggests, ductless systems do not require the use of air ducts. Ductless systems consist of an outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air-handling units, called “heads”, linked by a dedicated refrigerant line. Indoor heads are typically mounted high on a wall or ceiling covering a 3” hole where the refrigerant line passes through from the outside unit, which is mounted at the base of the house. Each indoor head corresponds with a heating and cooling zone that can be controlled independently.

Starting in 2008, the Northwest region's utilities have taken a leadership role in championing ductless heating and cooling technology. In the last 3 years more than 13,000 ductless heating and cooling systems have been installed in the Northwest, at a savings of 40,500,000 kWh hours per year. That's enough electricity to power 3,805 average homes for an entire year.

Ninety-two utility partners in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington offer customer rebates on energy-efficient ductless systems – up to $1,500 or up to 40 percent of the cost of an installed ductless heating and cooling system. Ductless heating and cooling systems have the potential to save the Northwest region 200 aMW of energy savings each year—the equivalent to powering more than 150,000 homes each year.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey

Friday, January 13, 2012

Competitive Grants Up To $100,000 for Utility-Focused Energy Technologies

The CTSI Utility Technology Challenge is accepting applications for competitive grants of up to $100,000 to fund demonstration projects for utility-focused energy technologies. The deadline for applications in January 31, 2012.

CTSI stands for the Clean Technology & Sustainable Industries Organization. It is a non-profit utility industry association that brings together global leaders for advocacy, community development, networking, and information sharing to help bring these needed technologies to market more rapidly.

The CTSI Utility Technology Challenge was launched two years ago in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to identify and promote innovative utility-focused energy technologies. A consortium reviews submissions and partners with the winners for testing and pilot programs. Members of the consortium this year include Arsenal Venture Partners, Anaheim Center for New Energy Technologies (AC-NET), Austin Energy, Constellation Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, Kauffman Foundation, National Grid, Northeast Utilities, Shell GameChanger, and Southern California Edison.

The consortium selects 15 semifinalist solutions to present at the Clean Technology 2012 Conference in Boston, June 14-16. Winners will be announced at the conference.

Key technology solution areas for this year's challenge include: transmission and distribution, smart grid, distributed power integration, natural gas, industrial and commercial energy and power efficiency, alternative power and hybrid generation, energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, and carbon reduction.

The submission deadline is January 31, 2012. Organizations with pilot-ready or early- commercial stage solutions targeting utilities and large customers should apply by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All Electric Jeep Grand Cherokee

An all-new, all-electric Jeep Granf Cherokee was unveiled today at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The introductory price starts at $57,400. The new model is expected to attract both retail customers and fleet users who desire to take a public position on zero emissions. First deliveries of fully validated vehicles are projected for this fall.

The first dealer of the new all-electric Jeep is Dana Hackney, a multi-line dealer from Cincinnati, Ohio. The company also announced that it would immediately begin to take reservations for the AMP Grand Cherokee EV from fleet and retail customers online at

Production of AMP's Jeep Grand Cherokee EV will be done at the company's Engineering and Production facility in Loveland, Ohio.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Recycling Waste from Biodiesel Production

Extreme BioDiesel has developed a new and profitable use for raw glycerin, a waste product generated during its bio-diesel processes. The new glycerin product acts as a for concrete and asphalt forms used in finished landscape products and roads.

BookMerge Technology, Inc., the parent of Extreme Biodiesel, has launched a new product line based on the waste glycerine. The new product has already been tested and utilized in the loading, transportation and delivery of concrete and asphalt construction products. The company says that it will save money for customers, create a new profit center for Extreme Biodiesel, and promote a green alternative to existing products.