Friday, February 25, 2011

Georgia Man Sentenced to Prison on Federal Drug Charges

A member of a sophisticated drug ring operating in the Huntington, West Virginia area was sentenced yesterday in federal court. Kenneth "Kid" Pertillo, 27, of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers to 46 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base. On June 12, 2009, officers with the Huntington Police Department arrested Pertillo and Thomaas "30" Redding for traffic violations in the 2200 block of Artisan Avenue in Huntington. After finding illegal drugs in the car, officers arrested Pertillo and Redding. During a strip search at the police station, Pertillo removed a bag containing more than five grams of cocaine base from his body. He also carried in his pockets $1,507 in cash which included 51 $20 bills.

The long-term, multi-state investigation revealed that by working together in a relatively sophisticated drug distribution organization, members enjoyed increased profits from their illegal drug sales. Through their coordinated efforts of buying drugs in larger quantities for resale, the drug ring was able to widen their customer base and increase their market share in the Huntington area.

The investigation further revealed that group members recruited others from their hometown of Macon, Georgia to relocate to Huntington to sell drugs with the promise of higher profits. They manufactured powder cocaine into crack cocaine, trained new arrivals in local crack pricing and portioning, used counter-surveillance techniques to avoid detection by law enforcement, provided financial assistance to retain defense attorneys and post bond for incarcerated members, arranged for storage of drugs and firearms in the homes of local residents, paid local addicts with crack to rent cars for trips out-of-state to resupply the group with drugs, shared handguns for use while dealing drugs, and other actions which increased the effectiveness of the group.

In all, the drug ring members and their associates received sentences totaling 1,072 months, or almost 90 years, collectively. Pertillo's co-defendants were previously sentenced for their roles: Charles "Goldie" Williams—136 months in prison; Nekoase "Shadow/Fly" Vinson—168 months in prison; Thomaas "30" Redding—69 months in prison; and Antonio "T.O." Whitehead—108 months in prison. Other conspiracy members and associates were previously convicted under separate indictments, including Maurice "Edith" Dugger—85 months; SylVester "Twin" Dugger—150 months; SylEster Dugger—95 months; Jennifer "J-Lo" Ferrell—33 months; Mark King—108 months; Robin Bailey—84 months; and Lisa Bailey—36 months.

The investigation was conducted by the Huntington Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, Huntington Police Department, West Virginia State Police, WVSP Forensic Laboratory, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lawrence County (Ohio) Drug Task Force, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, Cabell County Sheriff's Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

APS Healthcare Pays $13 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case

The United States Attorney’s Office today (February 22) announced that “INNOVATIVE RESOURCES GROUP, LLC,” doing business as “APS HEALTHCARE MIDWEST,” of White Plains, New York, has reached a $13 million settlement with the United States and the state of Georgia to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act. The United States’ share of the settlement is $5.2 million. The government alleges that APS Healthcare submitted false claims to Medicaid through the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) because it did not provide specialty services related to disease management and case management to members of the Georgia Medicaid Management Program (GAMMP) during the period from September 1, 2007 through February 28, 2010.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the settlement, “In this time of tight budgets and rising health care costs, the state of Georgia tried to improve its services to its Medicaid recipients by contracting with APS Healthcare. But instead of providing improved efficiency and effectiveness the company billed for, APS Healthcare took Medicaid’s money for itself and left some of our most vulnerable citizens without the aid they deserved.”

“Investigating Medicaid grant fraud is an important priority, because it diverts desperately needed resources from those who need it most,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Region.

“This substantial recovery of taxpayer dollars is attributable to the continued strong partnership between state and federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against health care fraud and abuse,” said Scott Smeal, Georgia Senior Assistant Attorney General. “This case should send a strong message to companies such as APS Healthcare that they will be held fully accountable when they fail to provide the services they promised to provide to Medicaid patients.”

Under the GAMMP contract, APS Healthcare agreed to provide case and disease management services to Georgia Medicaid recipients and was paid a monthly fee for each member receiving such services. The government contends that APS Healthcare failed to provide the required services to a large portion of the Medicaid recipients and over-billed the Georgia Department of Community Health in its monthly invoices.

APS Healthcare has executed a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, which will require an aggressive compliance program. The Corporate Integrity Agreement requires, among other things, intensive training and implementation of policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with federal health care program requirements. In addition, APS Healthcare will be subject to external review of its compliance with state Medicaid contracts. If APS Healthcare fails to comply with certain material terms of the CIA, the company is subject to monetary penalties and exclusion from federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The case, pending in the Northern District of Georgia, is filed under United States ex rel. Michael Claeys and State of Georgia ex rel. Michael Claeys v. APS Healthcare, Inc., APS Healthcare Bethesda, Inc., and Innovative Resource Group, LLC d/b/a/ APS Healthcare Midwest, 1:09-cv-2779-WSD.

This civil investigation was conducted by special agents of the FBI and HHS-OIG.

The civil settlement was reached by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. Huber and Lena Amanti.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flood Safety Day: Prepare for the Number One Weather-Related Killer

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign urges families to prepare for flood emergencies on Feb. 11, the final day of Severe Weather Awareness Week

Georgians know the toll that flooding can take on a community after record floods in September 2009 caused 10 deaths and $500 million of damage to homes and businesses. In the United States, floods are the most common severe weather emergency and the number two weather-related killer. Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security urge residents to learn the tools and resources necessary to manage floods during Flood Safety Day, Friday, Feb. 11, the final day of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

“Seven people lost their lives in our county during the 2009 floods,” said Jason Milhollin, Emergency Management Director for Douglas County. “Most of them were swept off the roads while driving through heavy rain, but had they been better informed about the weather and at-risk areas near their homes, most could have avoided danger.”

More than half of flood victims are in vehicles swept away by moving water, and just six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person down. In Georgia, many communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms, but dam failures can also cause some of the worst flooding events. Floods can be slow or fast rising, but generally develop over a period of days.

Flash floods, however, usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam.

Though floods can occur without much warning, there are steps that any household can take to prepare and minimize property damage, injury or even the threat of death. GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers this information to help you prepare, plan and stay informed about floods:

Prepare for Flooding

  • Know your area's flood risk – if unsure, call your local emergency management agency.
  • Create an emergency supplies kit and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Reduce potential flood damage by raising your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
  • Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program is designed to provide reasonable flood insurance in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is available in hundreds of participating Georgia communities. Visit for more information.

Plan to Evacuate

  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank. If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.

Stay Informed about Flooding

  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for flood information.
  • Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.
  • Never drive through standing water. It only takes two feet of water to float a full-sized automobile.
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • Stay out of floodwaters if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, if your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after floodwaters recede, roads and bridges may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.

The state’s emergency preparedness campaign, Ready Georgia, offers families a free, interactive online tool that takes the guesswork out of getting prepared. By visiting, families can take less than an hour to enter pertinent information and get a customized family communications plan and emergency supply checklist.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Ready Georgia is giving residents the chance to win a NOAA Weather Radio and Ready kit, a $100 value, courtesy of The Home Depot. From Feb. 7-11, visit Ready Georgia’s Facebook page and click on the “Contests” tab. Then, enter the contest by simply submitting a severe weather photo and a step you have taken to prepare.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit or

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“Seaside Partners Fund” General Partner Sentenced to Prison for Investment Fraud

ROBERT L. DUNCAN, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to prison today by United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. on a charge of wire fraud in connection with an investment scheme through his company, “Seaside Partners Fund,” which was based in Atlanta.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This is another case of a financial predator who has defrauded individuals of millions in savings. As part of the President’s Financial Fraud Task Force, it will remain a focus of our mission to root out and address these crimes and to help instill a measure of confidence in our financial system.”

DUNCAN was sentenced to four years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,839,751. DUNCAN pleaded guilty to the charge on September 23, 2010. The Court determined that DUNCAN has already paid back approximately $226,473.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: From January 2005 to March 2010, DUNCAN convinced several local investors to allow him to invest approximately $4 million of their money, falsely telling them that their funds were in individual capital accounts and invested through licensed securities brokers. The investors transferred their funds to DUNCAN’s investment program, known as “Seaside Partners Fund,” after he falsely represented that their principal would be held for their benefit in individual capital accounts and invested by licensed securities brokers. DUNCAN periodically furnished his investors with fraudulently altered account statements, which falsely showed that their investments were doing well, when in fact, DUNCAN was using their investment principal for his own business and personal expenses. The Criminal Information charges DUNCAN with wire fraud for causing the investors’ funds to be electronically transferred in interstate commerce to execute his scheme to defraud.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Atlanta District Office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has conducted a separate civil investigation and referred this case for prosecution.

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