Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on February 6, 2008, before Chief U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, LARRY TALSETH, a 56-year-old resident of Helena, pled guilty to receipt and possession of child pornography. Sentencing is set for May 16, 2008. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
In April of 2006, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crimes Center initiated an investigation into a criminal organization operating numerous commercial child pornography websites on the Internet. The investigation, known as Operation Flicker, has identified thousands of people in the United States who have subscribed to various child pornography websites operated by this organization.
In May of 2007, ICE agents in Great Falls received information that TALSETH, a Helena resident, was among the subscribers identified during Operation Flicker.
During the execution of a search warrant at his residence in Helena, TALSETH was interviewed and admitted to knowingly receiving and possessing child pornography images via the Internet on his home computer from approximately 2004 until July of 2007.
A subsequent forensic analysis of TALSETH'S computer revealed dozens of child pornography movies and thousands of child pornography images, many of known children and including children clearly prepubescent or under the age of 12 engaged in sadistic or masochistic activity or other depictions of violence.
TALSETH faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to the maximum of 20 years, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervision.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Brooklyn Physical Therapy Clinic Executive and Three Employees Charged in Health Care Fraud Scheme
Four Brooklyn, N.Y.-area residents have been charged in connection with a health care fraud scheme operated out of the Solstice Wellness Center, a Brooklyn-area clinic that purported to specialize in providing physical therapy and various diagnostic tests, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).
Solstice executive Dmitry Shteyman, 35, and Solstice employees Aleksey Shteyman, 41; Maxsim Shvedkin, 38; and Sara Kalantarov, 22, were each charged in an indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, to submit and cause the submission of false claims and to pay health care kickbacks. In addition, Dmitry Shteyman, Aleksey Shteyman and Shvedkin were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 16 counts of health care fraud. Dmitry Shteyman, Shvedkin and Kalantarov were arrested today in the Eastern District of New York. Aleksey Shteyman remains at large.
According to the indictment, Dmitry Shteyman was the chief operating officer and vice president of Solstice, Aleksey Shteyman was a consultant at Solstice, Shvedkin assisted in the recruitment of Medicare beneficiaries at Solstice, and Kalantarov was an employee at Solstice who worked at the front desk. All four individuals are alleged to have been involved in paying cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to induce those beneficiaries to be transported to and from Solstice, to purportedly receive physicians’ services, physical therapy and diagnostic tests. The false and fraudulent claims that were submitted to Medicare were for services that were not actually rendered and that were not medically necessary.
The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to submit and cause the submission of false claims, and to pay health care kickbacks carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, per count. The charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, per count.
An indictment is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Today’s charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of HHS.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Katherine Houston and Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Office of the New York Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the New York Office of the Medicaid Inspector General conducted the investigation. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 560 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $1.2 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
Ninety-four people have been charged for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program in the continuing operation of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami, Baton Rouge, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Houston, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of HHS. The operation announced today is the largest federal health care fraud takedown since Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations began in 2007.
The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. More than 360 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in today’s operation.
“Our continued Strike Force operations reflect the unprecedented commitment that inspired the creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team in May 2009,” said Attorney General Holder. “With today’s arrests, we’re putting would-be criminals on notice: Health care fraud is no longer a safe bet. The federal government is working aggressively – and collaboratively – to pursue health care criminals around the country and to bring these offenders to justice.”
“Today’s arrests send a strong message that attempts to defraud Medicare will not be tolerated,” said Secretary Sebelius. “With the help of new tools in the Affordable Care Act, including stiffer penalties and better information sharing, we will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to stamp out Medicare fraud and protect beneficiaries and the American taxpayer.”
Charges were unsealed today against 94 individuals who are accused of various Medicare fraud-related offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, and money laundering. The charges are based on a variety of fraud schemes, including physical therapy and occupational therapy schemes, home health care schemes, HIV infusion fraud schemes, and durable medical equipment (DME) schemes. Thirty-six defendants charged in these schemes have been arrested in Miami, New York, Baton Rouge, and Detroit, and additional arrests are expected throughout the day.
According to the court documents, the defendants charged today participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes, never provided. In many cases, indictments and complaints allege that beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks in return for allowing providers to submit forms saying they had received the treatments that, in reality, were unnecessary or never provided. Collectively, the doctors, health care company owners, executives, and others charged in the indictments and complaints are accused of conspiring to submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program.