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Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI accused of spying on defense in Medicare fraud case

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org 

Judge Cooke has set a June 8 hearing to consider alleged wrongdoing by federal prosecutors and agents.

Judge Cooke has set a June 8 hearing to consider alleged wrongdoing by federal prosecutors and agents.

In a stunning twist in a long-running Medicare fraud case, both the Miami U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI stand accused of spying on a defendant’s lawyer by illegally and secretly obtaining copies of confidential defense documents.

Court papers filed last week by attorneys for Dr. Salo Schapiro contend the secret practice was not the action of “just one rogue agent or prosecutor.” Rather, it was apparently an “office-wide policy” of both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI that’s gone on for “at least 10 years.”

The unwritten policy involves “surreptitiously copying defense counsel’s work product through the government-contracted copy service that the government requires defense counsel to use to obtain the discovery documents’’ needed to properly prepare for trial, according to court papers that seek either the dismissal of Schapiro’s indictment or the disqualification of the entire prosecution team.

Miami attorneys Howard Srebnick and Rossana Arteaga-Gomez represent Schapiro and filed the motion, which asserts that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has for several weeks been investigating itself in the matter.

Miami U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke held an initial hearing Tuesday that was continued until June 8 at 1:30 p.m. The judge, in an order, has asked both parties to respond to this extraordinary question: “What remedies, if any, are available to the court were the court to find that the described conduct in defendant Schapiro’s motion is a systemic, consistent and/or pervasive practice of or on behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office?”

A spokeswoman for Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer would not be interviewed. However, late Thursday night prosecutors filed court papers confirming that an internal probe is underway and asserting that defense arguments are “based on erroneous accusations and insinuations.”

Howard Srebnick, left, and James V. Hayes

Howard Srebnick, left, and James V. Hayes

“Despite the charged language this is not a case about intrusion into the attorney-client relationship, eavesdropping or sneaking into the defense camp,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney James V. Hayes and Justice Department fraud attorney Lisa H. Miller.

Defense attorney Srebnick did not return a phone call seeking comment.

 Specifically, the court papers allege that Fort Lauderdale-based copying service Imaging Universe and president Ignacio E. Montero provided the government with CDs containing duplicates of documents Schapiro’s defense team culled from 220 boxes of evidentiary records in preparation for trial. Federal agents had seized those records from the mental-health clinic Biscayne Milieu, where Schapiro worked.

“Covertly cloning defense counsel’s work-product to obtain a tactical advantage is nothing short of ‘shocking to the universal sense of justice’ mandated by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” Srebnick and Arteaga-Gomez wrote. “To the extent that the prosecution team can infer from Dr. Schapiro’s selection of discovery documents his thought process, the government has violated his Fifth Amendment right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself. This intrusion into the attorney-client relationship has also violated Dr. Schapiro’s Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel.”

The government responds

The government’s Thursday night response acknowledged that Imaging Universe did supply the FBI with duplicate CDs of what the company had copied for Schapiro’s defense team, but said the discs “were never requested by any agent, prosecutor or anyone else on the government’s behalf.”

Prosecutors Hayes and Miller also stated that they were unaware of the duplicate CDs until an FBI agent disclosed their existence in late April. They said that when they found out they immediately told “Montero to stop and began an internal inquiry.”

“To date it has found that there was simply no pervasive practice of receiving or recording defense discovery, and that it was not a widespread or institutionalized practice,” says the government’s response.

Nova Southeastern University constitutional law professor Robert Jarvis was skeptical of the defense’s sensational claims, but said that if the allegations prove true it could upend hundreds of criminal cases, free untold defendants and potentially result in criminal charges against government officials responsible for violating defendants’ rights.

“This opens a huge can of worms,” Jarvis said. “It’s potentially catastrophic for the government and I would think that the [U.S.] Attorney General would be swooping in on this. There are 95 judicial districts. If it happened in this office, you have to wonder if it’s happening in any others.”

Schapiro, 70, Sonia Gallimore, 74, both Broward residents, and Marlene Cesar, 64, of Allentown, PA., were indicted on charges of health care fraud and conspiracy and making false statements in September 2014. According to the indictment, they and other alleged co-conspirators submitted more than $55 million in phony Medicare claims through the Miami clinic, Biscayne Milieu, collecting more than $11 million. Previously, about 25 other owners and employees of the clinic pleaded guilty or were convicted of healthcare fraud.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Gallimore and Cesar filed paperwork seeking dismissal of their charges, claiming their clients’ rights were similarly violated by the alleged scheme.

The defense motion says that between late 2014 and last month, Schapiro’s lawyers repeatedly visited an FBI warehouse in Miramar where discovery documents are kept for review. During Arteaga-Gomez’s first visit to the warehouse federal agents told her that if she wanted to copy any documents she would have to use Imaging Universe, the motion says.

Since the indictment, Imaging Universe has charged Schapiro $8,200 to produce nine sets of discovery documents to his defense team. The motion identifies those records to include a dozen CDs containing approximately 1,140 PDF files, many with multiple pages.

The motion contends that company president Montero “lied” to Arteaga-Gomez about the copying process, and instead of making sure the government did not see the defense’s hand-selected files, provided FBI case agent Deanne Lindsey with duplicate copies.

Montero did not respond to a detailed voicemail message seeking comment.

Prosecutor discloses FBI received defense CDs

Hayes, the federal prosecutor on Schapiro’s case, first informed Srebnick and his associate that agent Lindsey “had been surreptitiously receiving the CDs” on April 22, according to the defense motion.

“Hayes proposed to immediately destroy the CDs,” but the lawyers asked instead that he give them to the defense, “which he did,” the motion says.

Hayes declined to be interviewed about the matter.

Arteaga-Gomez phoned Montero on April 25 to ask who had told him to provide copies of the CDs to the government. Montero, the motion says, answered that an “agent” told his office manager to do it. “Mr. Montero then stated that he had been providing to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the past 10 years duplicate copies of the discovery documents selected by defense counsel in other cases.”

Montero also forwarded to Schapiro’s defense an April 21 email he sent to a healthcare-fraud paralegal in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stating that he’d provided the Justice Department with duplicates of defense records “since 2006.” Montero added that both his old company, Xpediacopy, and Imaging Universe had done it.

If so, the alleged government misconduct spanned the administrations of three Miami U.S. Attorneys – Alex Acosta, who served from 2005-2009, Jeffrey Sloman acting U.S. Attorney from 2009-2010 and Wifredo Ferrer, who took over in May 2010.

Srebnick and Arteaga-Gomez wrote that they’ve recently had “multiple conversations” about the matter with Miami federal prosecutors and their supervisors.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has admitted that Agent Deanne Lindsey had been receiving copies of the CDs and had been keeping the duplicate CDs in a folder as she received them,” the motion says. Lindsey also “confessed to opening four of those duplicate CDs” looking for files, copying and pasting files onto her own CDs and providing “those new CDs to the government’s expert witness for trial preparation,” the motion says.

The prosecutors’ response sought to cast Lindsey’s contact with the records in less threatening way.

Prosecutors notified the defense last week that Montero had “confessed to lying to Rossana Arteaga-Gomez about the discovery process” in order to hide what was happening, the defense lawyers wrote.

“That the government-contracted copy service misled Ms. Arteaga-Gomez in order to cover-up the office-wide policy makes this case especially egregious,” the motion says.

Details about the size, terms and duration of Imaging Universe’s contract were not immediately available. The prosecutors’ response, however, said the contract is between Imaging Universe and the Government Publishing office.

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Latest comments

  • Whoa.

  • “gone on for “at least 10 years”
    Oh, great! Then we can BLAME BUSH and 0bama will be seen as having NOTHING to do with this – like usual!

  • It’s called parallel construction. They also use Stingray technology to listen to you in real time. FBI agents are the scum of the earth Tyrants by every sense of the word. The Government is corrupt from local, to state, to Federal. It’s all a racketeering scheme to enrich themselves and their bank masters.

  • The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida is a sewer of corruption. They cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.

  • We had a revolution for less! It is stunning to see further evidence our country, especially under this administration, cannot be trusted to uphold the constitution!

  • My thought was that the defendant had to be a Khazarian, otherwise such a fact of criminality on the part of the government would not have come to light, or even been published in the Khazarian-media.

    Bingo! Bingo.

  • These FedPhuks are traitors. Execute every one of them on the street by Guillotine. This criminal government has become a totalitarian nightmare. There is no honesty in government any more. It is only about suppression of the people.

  • .

    yeah, down here the police are the criminals……….entire BSO is FOR SALE here in Broward…………and until another half-dozen County judges are de-benched and two dozen or so BSO brass it will be the wild west here also

    that’s so MIAMI

    frankD

  • The crooked DOJ did not request it. Suuuure.

  • The feds are corrupt to the core, but the people are powerless to stop them. People are hoping Trump will do something, but it seems doubtful. The FBI, CIA, and military are drunk with power and accelerating America towards it’s doom.

  • What else would one expect? After all, pigs will be pigs.

  • Jooo’s every one of them prosecuters!

  • The most transparent administration in our nation’s history.

  • This is Big news. The Judge asked for a remedy from the lawyers? Are you kidding me? The remedy is in the supreme law of the land (The constitution). Charge the FBI with treason. This is an attack on the Justice System. If there is no privacy then there is no Justice. If there is no Justice then there is chaos. Release all prisoners and give back all the money the FBI has cost defendants. Charge the previous heads of the FBI and current head of the FBI with treason against the Government Justice system. That’s what you do. The penalty for treason is life in prison or death by hanging. That’s the remedy here. Guarantee if you do that the FBI and other alphabet agencies will not do this again. Having said that since the FBI and NSA spies on everyone it probably has dirt on every Judge in the country and so this will never happen.

  • This sounds so familiar! it’s not enough not to be found out by others while they refuse to be found out by themselves thus they play hide and go seek with their own conscience. Some of the em under the guise of the Food & Beverage Industry sorry real food industry I didn’t mean you guys & the City Improvement Agency need to make lot of changes.many people from third world country were hired, they say you can bring a man out of another country but you can’t bring his country out of the man hence the corruption back in those days when I was a 9 or ten the word of mouth was enough now I see documents changed the data is changed. I think we should change this pattern we should have more investigative reporters we should keep a log besides our electronic data there is also lots of deception that really baffles me the medical data should be protected what I see people work as volunteer in an hospital & access vulnerable people’s our veterans & soldiers medical reports via deception I think it is private & it should be protected how come this data ended up on everyone’s computer & who is responsible or an instigated it plus they should stop letting them use others health insurance there is lots of hacking going that should be stopped they’re stealing disable folks funds & how come the judges & our lawmakers buying it people not helping & yet claiming I thing that should be the lawmakers top priority to protect everyone’s data!! A very concerned mother!

  • What moderation??

  • If this were not an ongoing campaign of malfeasance, why did the defense attorney have to use a specific company to make copies. I can see no logical reason, other than charging exorbitant fees or collusion to require a specific copy service to access documents that are legally available under discovery law.

  • This type of thing must be rampant with the Feds. Take a look at FreeTonyViiola.com to read about the same thing taking place in Ohio. Even worse, Tony’s star witness in the State case who was set to testify about: all the evidence being hidden, all the spying on Tony’s defense strategies that had taken place, the sexual relationship between the prosecutor Dan Kasaris and a prosecution witness, ended up being found dead in her apartment the day she was supposed to testify. She was only 26.

  • Well you know OIG was probably involved too with super agent Glenn Ferry at the top of the crap pile…oh wait he changed jobs just in time.

  • Family Wrongfully Convicted Still in Prison

    A Father, a daughter and a son sit in Federal prison after having already served five years of their 30, 22 and 25 years illegally imposed sentences.

    In July 2012, The Maclis, Antonio (78), Sandra (52) and Jorge (45) were convicted of healthcare fraud during the first wave of the Biscayne Milieu trials (US v. Macli 11-20587-Cr-Scola).

    Five years later, during the second wave of trials (US v. Shapiro 14-20715-Cr-Cooke) it was discovered that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida engaged in prosecutorial misconduct that gave them an illegal advantage in the trial and helped them secure convictions.

    The Miami US Attorney Office and the FBI were spying on a defendant’s lawyer by secretly obtaining copies of confidential defense documents. This illicit practice was not the action of just one rogue agent or prosecutor (James V. Hayes) but rather it has been an office wide policy of both the US Attorney Office and the FBI for at least ten years.

    The US Attorney Office has admitted that FBI Agent Deanne Lindsey has been receiving copies of CDs containing protected discovery materials selected by the defense team. Lindsey confessed to keeping the duplicate CDs, opening them, looking for documents and copying files that ultimately were provided to the government’s expert witnesses for trial preparation.

    Despite a statement issued by the US Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer in which he promises openness and transparency in this matter, the scandal was resolved privately in the Shapiro case resulting in no prison time for Shapiro, Galimore and Cesar. But the Miami US Attorney Office has made no attempt to rectify the injustice with regard to the other parties affected by the deceptive practice.

    The government confirmed in an August 5th, 2016 letter to The Maclis, that the same misconduct took place five years ago during their 2012 trial without the knowledge of the court, the jury, the defense counsel or the defendants, yet The Maclis remain unjustly imprisoned.

    Covertly cloning defense counsel work product to obtain a tactical advantage subverts the universal standard of justice and violates the 5th and 6th Amendments of the US Constitution.

    It makes one wonder: if the government is allowed to break the law without any repercussions, how many innocent families are illegally imprisoned? We know of one

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