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Entries in Raids (3)

Friday
Sep092011

Phoenix Goddess Temple Raided as Alleged Brothel

Backpage dot com(PHOENIX) -- Arizona prosecutors have charged more than 30 people affiliated with the Phoenix Goddess Temple, a 10,000-square-foot alleged brothel that had been operating under the pretense of providing "religious" services for hundreds of dollars in cash "donations," police said.

On Sept. 7, 2011 police raided the Phoenix Goddess Temple, an alleged brothel, arresting 18 people.

"They were committing crimes under the guise of religious freedom," Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos said. "It's a sad situation when people are trying to hide behind religion and church to commit a crime."

The "temple" had been operating in Phoenix since 2009, but authorities didn't become aware of it until residents began complaining. After a local newspaper visited the alleged brothel and published an in-depth story, police launched a six-month investigation culminating in the arrest of 18 people Wednesday. They are still hunting down the other 19.

It was the largest Arizona prostitution bust since authorities broke up the tri-state "Desert Divas" ring in 2008.

Four of those indicted are men, but none of them are johns. Charges include prostitution, pandering and conspiracy.

During the investigation, police discovered the Goddess Temple was operating another alleged house of prostitution in Sedona, Ariz., which was also raided Wednesday.

Goddess Temple founder Tracy Elise, known within her business as "Mystic Mother," was one of the 18 arrested Wednesday. She had also been involved with a similar alleged brothel in Seattle, Wash., that had been shut down in 2009.

The Phoenix Goddess Temple still has several advertisements on the adult entertainment section of classified ads website Backpage.com. An ad for Iyata dated Sept. 5 showed a woman in what appears to be a belly-dancing outfit. "I will ignite you with my touch, breath, and Love. We will Cultivate your ecstasy to it's highest potential," the ad says.

The Phoenix Goddess Temple did not immediately respond to an interview request from ABC News.

Organization leaders had said in prior media interviews that they are not prostitutes, but religious healers focusing on "Root Chakra."

"There's no science and provability about this [healing system]," Elise told the Phoenix New Times in February. "But it works."

The county attorney, however, isn't buying it.

"We're not viewing this in any way as somehow protected by the first amendment," Montgomery said. "This is not religious expression. This is a criminal activity and those responsible thought they were being too clever by half by coming up with different terms."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

DEA Raids Pill Mills in Florida and Arrests Doctors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- On Wednesday, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local police swept across South Florida, arresting individuals suspected of illegally prescribing painkillers and other prescription drugs to patients who often have nothing wrong with them.

The arrests were part of a yearlong probe that centered on Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties and involved undercover agents purchasing prescription drugs. Authorities say there are hundreds of pain clinics throughout the region that are involved in the illegal activity. The clinics are also known as "pill mills" because people come there to get prescriptions, often with no questions being asked.

"Thousands of people from all over the Eastern Seaboard are coming to South Florida to illegally buy prescription drugs," said DEA agent, Anthony Angeli. "People will come in vans, eight or ten people at a time. They get the scripts, and they go back."

Angeli said when they return home, the pills usually end up on the black market.

South Florida is ground zero in the nation's war against prescription drug abuse. State officials recently said that 85 percent of all oxycodone pills sold in the U.S. come from Florida and the top 50 medical prescribers of such drugs are located in the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20,000 people a year are dying from prescription drug overdose, including seven a day in Florida. Over the last decade the number of such deaths has more than tripled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Feb182011

Doctors, Nurses, Therapists Arrested in Medicare Fraud Raids

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal agents raided health care facilities in nine states Thursday morning, arresting dozens of suspects believed to be defrauding Medicare of tens of millions of dollars.

Federal authorities say this is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- take-down of Medicare fraud suspects ever conducted.

The raids began Thursday morning in the pre-dawn hours.  The targets: more than 100 doctors, nurses, therapists and healthcare company executives who have allegedly been stealing tax dollars to the tune of $200 million in recent months.  Much of the fraud involved healthcare professionals billing the government for medical services never performed and medicines not provided.

The raids were conducted in Miami, Brooklyn, Tampa, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

Ten individuals, including three doctors and one physical therapist, were charged in Brooklyn, New York with fraud schemes involving $90 million in false billings for physical therapy, proctology services and nerve conduction tests.

In Miami, 32 defendants, including two doctors and eight nurses, were charged for their participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $55 million in false billings for home health care, durable medical equipment and prescription drugs.

Twenty-one defendants, including three doctors, three physical therapists and one occupational therapist, were charged in Detroit for schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $23 million.  The Detroit cases involve false claims for home health care, nerve conduction tests, psychotherapy, physical therapy and podiatry.

Ten defendants were charged in Tampa, Florida, for participating in schemes involving more than $5 million related to false claims for physical therapy, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.  Nine individuals were charged in Houston for schemes involving $8 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for physical therapy, durable medical equipment, home health care and chiropractor services.

In Dallas, seven defendants were indicted for conspiring to submit $2.8 million in false billing to Medicare related to durable medical equipment and home health care.  Five defendants were charged in Los Angeles for their roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $28 million.  The cases in Los Angeles involve false claims for durable medical equipment and home health care.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, six individuals were charged for a durable medical equipment fraud scheme involving more than $9 million in false claims.  In Chicago, charges were filed against 11 individuals associated with businesses that have billed Medicare more than $6 million for home health, diagnostic testing and prescription drugs.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio