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4 posts from May 2009

May 16, 2009

Woman Charged with Insurance Fraud for Second Time in Two Years

Insurance commission Commissioner Poizner Announces Bakersfield Woman Charged With Insurance Fraud For Second Time In Two Years

Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today that Shawn Rene Dodd, 43, of Bakersfield, was arrested on Wednesday, and charged with uncertified practice of medicine, making false or fraudulent insurance claims, money laundering, commission of a felony while on bail and selling stocks without a license.  Dodd's bail was set at $1,000,000. If convicted, she could face a maximum of nine years four months in prison for these charges.

"I will not tolerate those who abuse the insurance system to satisfy their own greed," said Commissioner Poizner. "CDI experts are quick to stop anyone who attempts to scam insurance companies and drive up the cost of insurance for all consumers."

Insurance fraud

Since her previous arrest in 2007, Dodd allegedly continued to operate medical corporations, which were used to fraudulently bill insurance carriers.  At one point, insurers were billed for medical services reportedly rendered when there were no doctors present. It is alleged that Dodd attempted to defraud insurance companies of at least $100,000. The California Department of Insurance and the Kern County District Attorney's Office jointly investigated this case.

Dodd allegedly operated these fraudulent companies while on $500,000 bail for previous felony charges.  In January 2007, Dodd was charged with felony insurance fraud, workers compensation insurance fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.  She was released from Kern County Jail and remained free on bail until her arrest on Wednesday. 

The Kern County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this case.

Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state.  Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's Enforcement Branch since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.    

More on Insurance Fraud

Big RIgging Lawsuit against Great American Insurance Company

Coalition Against Insurance Fraud - Fascinating site with latest news, articles and fraud related stories

What is Consumer Fraud? - California Department of Insurance

National Insurance Crime Bureau

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If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a motorcycle or automobile (or similar) accident, please call me, Lowell Steiger, immediately at

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

May 09, 2009

Testerone Gels: FDA Orders Label Warnings (Harmful to Children)

Testim gel The Food and Drug Administration is requiring box warnings on two topical testosterone gels.  Click here for basic information on the male hormone, testosterone.  Here's the FDA report:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it is requiring manufacturers of two prescription topical testosterone gel products, AndroGel 1% and Testim 1%, to include a boxed warning on the products’ labels. The agency is requiring this action after receiving reports of adverse effects in children who were inadvertently exposed to testosterone through contact with another person being treated with these products (secondary exposure).

The gels are approved for use in men who either no longer produce testosterone or produce it in very low amounts. Both products are applied once daily, to the shoulders or upper arms. Only AndroGel 1% is approved for application to the abdomen. Precautions in the current labels instruct users to wash their hands after using the product and to cover the treated skin with clothing.

“These drugs are approved for an important medical need, but can have serious, unintended side effects if not used properly,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We must ensure that the adults using them are well-informed about the precautions needed to protect children from secondary exposure.”

In 2007, 1.4 million prescriptions for AndroGel—the most commonly dispensed gel form of testosterone—were dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies. Approximately 25,000 of those were dispensed for off-label use in women. During the same period, some 370,000 prescriptions were dispensed for Testim, according to data from SDI: Vector One National. 

Despite the currently labeled precautions, as of Dec. 1, 2008, the FDA has received reports of eight cases of secondary exposure to testosterone in children ranging in age from nine months to five years. Since that time, additional reports of secondary exposure have been received by the agency and are presently under review.

Of the fully reviewed cases, adverse events reported in these children included inappropriate enlargement of the genitalia (penis or clitoris), premature development of pubic hair, advanced bone age, increased libido, and aggressive behavior. 

In most cases, the signs and symptoms regressed when the child no longer was exposed to the product. However, in a few cases, enlarged genitalia did not fully return to age-appropriate size and bone age remained modestly greater than the child’s chronological age.

In some cases, children had to undergo invasive diagnostic procedures and, in at least one case, a child was hospitalized and underwent surgery due to a delay in recognizing the underlying cause of the signs and symptoms.

Signs of inappropriate virilization (development of male secondary sexual characteristics) in children and the possibility of secondary testosterone exposure should be brought to a health care provider’s attention.

In most of the cases, users of these products failed to follow appropriate use instructions, resulting in direct contact between treated skin and the child.
     
The required label changes will provide additional information about the risk of secondary exposure and the steps that should be taken to reduce this risk. The FDA also is requiring that the manufacturers of these products develop a Medication Guide as part of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy to ensure that the benefits of these products continue to outweigh their potential risks.

The FDA recommends the following precautions be taken to minimize the potential for secondary exposure:

  • Adults who use testosterone gels should wash their hands with soap and warm water after every application;
  • Adults should cover the application site with clothing once the gel has dried;
  • Adults should wash the application site thoroughly with soap and warm water prior to any situation where skin-to-skin contact with another person is anticipated;
  • Children and women should avoid contact with testosterone application sites on the skin of men who use these products; and
  • Adults should note that use of any similar, but unapproved, products from the marketplace –including the Internet– that can result in the same serious adverse effects should be avoided.

Health care professionals and consumers may report serious adverse events (side effects) or product quality problems with the use of these gels to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail, fax or phone.

Relevant Websites/Information

Androgel Androgel 002 Testim gel 002 Testosterone in a tube
Testim Video: How to apply Testim

What is Testim?

Testim Side Effects: MedicineNet.com

Androgel Side Effects: eMed TV

Testosterone Gels Risky to Children: Web MD

FDA Orders Label Warnings for Testosterone Gels: ABC News

Testosterone Deficiency: The Urology Channel

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If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a motorcycle or automobile (or similar) accident, please call me, Lowell Steiger, immediately at

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"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"



May 03, 2009

Contempt of Court: Woman Sentenced to 30 Days for Texting in Court

Texting behind bars The unthinkable has finally happened - Susan Henwood appeared in court for a debtor's hearing in an effort to ask the judge to continue the hearing because her husband was sick and could not attend and she was sentenced for 30 days in jail for texting him the updates of the hearing!!! According to an article in the Journal of the American Bar Association

Susan Henwood, a mother of four, started serving the sentence in the Tooele County Jail on Monday, according to KSL.com. Henwood’s husband, Joshua Henwood, told KSL that his wife went to court to ask for a continuance in his case because he was sick and couldn’t attend. He also asked her to keep him updated.

Susan Henwood sent two messages from the courtroom, according to the story. The first read, "It doesn't look good for you." The second said, "They're coming for the Polaris Ranger."

In California, in order to be jailed for contempt of court the following elements must be met: (1) the making of a valid court order, (2) knowledge of the order by respondent, (3) ability of the respondent to render compliance, and (4) willful disobedience of the order. Warner v. Superior Court (1954) 126 Cal. App. 2d 821, 824.

I would imagine that the rules in Utah are similar and, if so, did Ms. Henwood's act of texting her husband as described above satisfy these elements?  I think not.  To start, there is nothing indicating that a valid order existed which means that elements 2-4 would be moot.

The judge let Ms. Henwood out of jail after only a few days ostensibly because she's a mother and her kids needed her, not because his ruling was wrong.  Well, you be the judge.

As you know, I continually rail against texting while driving - that's a danger to the driver and everyone on the road.  But texting in court?  Do we leave our First Amendment Rights at the courtroom door?

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May 02, 2009

Brown Obtains Guilty Plea from Woman Who Operated Sophisticated Loan Scam

BrownPortrait LOS ANGELES- Continuing his crackdown on mortgage fraud, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. late Thursday won a guilty plea from 22-year old Anna Santos, who conned thousands of dollars from homeowners in a "cruel and sophisticated" loan scam.

Santos will be formally sentenced on May 20 in Los Angeles Superior Court. She is expected to receive 2 years in prison.

"Santos conned thousands of dollars from homeowners trying to save their homes through a cruel and sophisticated scam," Brown said. "She held out hope, but in reality did not provide an ounce of loan modification, leaving her victims unprotected and in far worse straits."

Santos was arrested on March 12, 2009 after she used forged documents to convince victims to hand over thousands of dollars for non-existent loan modification services.

Santos obtained a fictitious business permit through the City of Los Angeles for "Payment Processing Department." She opened several bank accounts and two post office boxes under that name. She mailed flyers to vulnerable homeowners that appeared to be from victims' lenders or a government agency. The flyer used a large, bold header that read "Final Notice" and advised homeowners that they qualified for a special program to save their home from foreclosure.

After signing up for "loan modification services," homeowners then received what appeared to be "confirmation" that their lender had been notified. Many victims also received loan modification documents that appeared to be from their lender. These documents were all forgeries.

The victims were informed they had been placed in a "probationary" program and their mortgage payments should be submitted to "Payment Processing Department" and sent to a given post office box address. None of the payments were credited to the victims' home loans.

Payments sent to the post office box were retrieved by Ms. Santos and deposited into the bank accounts she had opened.

Santos targeted seniors and homeowners on the verge of foreclosure. It is believed that she scammed more than 100 victims. On average, victims lost approximately $3,000, at a time when they could not afford their mortgage, let alone additional fraudulent expenses.

Since taking office, Attorney General Brown has shut down loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams and fought companies that have misled vulnerable borrowers:

  • In March 2009, Brown shut down Foreclosure Freedom, a fraudulent loan modification company that continued to collect fees and mortgage payments from dozens of homeowners without ever providing any loan modification services.
  • In November 2008, Brown arrested three members of First Gov after the company demanded an up-front fee, ranging from $1,500 to $5,000, to participate in a loan-modification program and never renegotiated the loans.
  • In October 2008, Brown announced an $8.68 billion settlement with Countrywide Home Loans after the company deceived borrowers by misrepresenting loan terms, loan payment increases, and borrowers' ability to afford loans.
  • In May 2008, Brown shut down a team of scam artists that acquired deeds to hundreds of homes in foreclosure by convincing desperate consumers to pay $10,000 to place their property in a land grant, a phony and worthless real estate document, and then tricked homeowners into signing over the deed to their home and paying the company rent.
  • In March 2008, Brown shut down Lifetime Financial, Nations Mortgage, Greenleaf Lending, Virtual Escrow, Olympic Escrow and Direct Credit Solutions after the companies ran a complex predatory lending scheme using bait and switch tactics to victimize thousands of homeowners, many of whom lost their homes.

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