January 26, 2009
Governor Blagojevich's Criminal Defense Lawyer to Resign
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief defense attorney announced Friday that he is bailing out of the fraud and bribery case against the governor, strongly hinting that his embattled client refused to listen to his advice.
"I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen," Edward Genson said. "I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case."
Genson, who won renown in defending R&B star R. Kelly and former newspaper baron Conrad Black, dropped his bombshell announcement after a U.S. District Court hearing during which Chief Judge James F. Holderman released four wiretapped recordings of Blagojevich and his associates to the Illinois House impeachment committee.
Blagojevich, facing charges of fraud conspiracy and solicitation of bribery, was impeached by the Illinois House earlier this month and today faces trial in the Senate.
The governor held a news conference Friday afternoon and complained that the impeachment trial was unfair and indicated he would not attend.
In recent days, Genson has seemed to be on a separate wavelength from both his client and two other defense attorneys on the case. The legal team sent mixed signals to the media regarding whether the governor planned a lawsuit challenging Senate trial rules.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
December 09, 2008
Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning on federal corruption charges. Wiretaps recorded Blagojevich discussing how to "sell or trade" the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama "for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife," prosecutors allege. Also charged in the 2-count indictment, with a lurid 76-page FBI affidavit, was Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris.
Blagojevich allegedly was recorded saying he would demand hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Senate appointment, or else he would appoint himself.
On the day before the presidential election, Blagojevich discussed with "Deputy Governor A" the Senate seat that Obama would vacate if he were elected president. According to the affidavit, "Rod Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open Senate seat, then Rod Blagojevich will take the Senate seat himself: 'if ... they're not going to offer anything of value, then I might just take it.'"
In talking with "Advisor A" about "Senate Candidate 1," Blagojevich allegedly "stated that the Senate seat 'is a fucking valuable thing, you don't just give it away for nothing.'"
The affidavit, by FBI agent Daniel Cain, also claims that Blagojevich threatened to withhold state aid from the Tribune Co., which filed for bankruptcy Monday, unless it fired editorial board members who had criticized Blagojevich in editorials.
The affidavit includes numerous pages detailing Blagojevich's alleged connections to the Tony Rezko political contributions scandal.
The allegations regarding Blagojevich's alleged attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat fill pages 54-74 of the FBI affidavit.
Read full article, including link to the Government's Complaint and Affidavit, here. [Brooks Holland]
October 08, 2008
Sleuths go door to door to sniff out Medicare fraud
They're seeking an 86-year-old man — allegedly a homebound diabetic whose home health care agency is billing Medicare for daily visits by a nurse to help him inject insulin. He wasn't home when they stopped by twice the day before, but this time they hear someone inside.
Visits such as this one late last month are part of an effort to battle Medicare fraud in one of the nation's hot spots for such scams: Miami-Dade County.
Unless the agencies are caught, though, Medicare still pays them. Home care costs in Miami range from $300 for a 60-day treatment period to more than $27,000, CMS data show.
The focus on home care in Miami comes amid scrutiny of Medicare's anti-fraud efforts, including a series of recent congressional reports describing questionable payments to medical providers nationwide.
Today, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems plans to outline new measures to combat inappropriate payments. Among them: actions targeting Miami-Dade home health agencies.
By the time Bradley and Franco leave the man's apartment, he has admitted he goes out for walks and takes the bus regularly, so he isn't technically homebound. He tells them Medicare pays for an aide who comes three times a week to clean his home.
Yet dust covers the knick-knacks in the apartment and spills soil the kitchen floor. He says the nurse comes each day because he's afraid of pinching himself when injecting insulin.
It isn't clear, the investigators say, if he really does need a nurse to help with his insulin shots or if he needs injections at all. But one thing is apparent: "He doesn't need the aide," Franco says.
If nervousness about self-injections was a qualifier for home health care, "we'd be paying for every diabetic in the country," Bradley says. [Mark Godsey]