In 2018, attorney Michael Avenatti made headlines by helping porn star Stormy Daniels sue President Donald Trump over a hush-money agreement she signed just before the 2016 presidential election. However, he is now making headlines for allegedly defrauding clients and failing to pay taxes.
At least 700 people in Florida were invested in real estate acquired by the Woodbridge Group of Companies until its financial collapse. The aftermath of the company's bankruptcy filing revealed a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $1.3 billion. The company's former CEO along with two senior executives have been arrested on federal charges of wire and mail fraud and money laundering.
Florida fans of "Desperate Housewives" heard many apologies from actress Felicity Huffman, former star of the series, after she entered guilty pleas in the college admission scandal. She accepted responsibility for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and provided a public statement. Huffman expressed shame for her choice to pay a bribe to improve her daughter's SAT score. She apologized specifically to honest parents who sacrifice to help their hard-working children enter college.
A Florida man has been convicted in a Medicare and Medicaid fraud case for allegedly billing over $1.3 billion in false claims to the government-run health care programs. The 50-year-old man's trial ran for eight weeks and included extensive testimony on the nature of the allegations in the case. He was accused of billing both programs for services that were never provided to patients, were not medically needed or which were provided through kickback payments. The man has not yet been sentenced.
Florida residents may have heard about a scandal involving celebrities paying a consultant to help their kids get into college. Individuals such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are said to have been involved with the scheme. It involved paying the consultant to create false academic records to help their children gain admittance to a variety of schools throughout the country. In some cases, the consultant would send false test scores or bribe officials in exchange for admission.
Florida residents likely know who Paul Manafort is and have heard of the case against him. The former Trump campaign chairman was sentenced to 47 months in prison on charges of tax and bank fraud. The case was brought by Robert Mueller in connection with a probe into possible misconduct in the 2016 presidential election. In addition to the prison time, Manafort was also ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 as well as $24.8 million in restitution.
Florida authorities have arrested 10 people for allegedly operating a medical billing fraud scheme in Fort Myers. A local television station reported that state investigators are still searching for four other people who may have been involved in the operation.
Former executives of Insys Therapeutics are on trial on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud. The individuals are alleged to have contributed to the opioid crisis that has impacted people in Florida and around the country. In addition to those who are on trial, the company's former CEO as well as a former vice president of sales have entered guilty pleas. They are both currently cooperating with authorities.
After an e-commerce center in Melbourne summoned police to investigate fraudulent purchases allegedly made through a company computer, police arrested a 22-year-old female employee. The investigation resulted in accusations that she had bought merchandise valued at over $4,000 with fake credit accounts.
A little over 10 years have passed since the infamous arrest of Bernie Madoff, a Wall Street investment fund manager whose amazing Ponzi scheme resulted in more than $60 billion lost by numerous wealthy clients. For many in the investment world throughout Florida and the rest of America, the Madoff case stands as a blueprint of how investment fraud is handled by prosecutors, and how potential defendants can improve their outcomes in court.