A West Palm Beach strip club owes eight California models as much as $1.8 million for using their photos to lure customers without their permission, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
In the lawsuit against Ultra Gentlemen’s Lounge, Miami attorney Sarah Cabarcas Osman claims the eight women are top-flight models and business women who never authorized the club on Congress Avenue to use their photos in promotional advertisements.
The club, formerly operated as T’s Lounge, “gained an economic windfall by using the images of professional and successful models for (its) own commercial purposes,” Osman wrote. In addition to not being paid, the woman “sustained injury to their images, brands and marketability by shear affiliation with Ultra Lounge and the type of club (it is),” she wrote.
In an affidavit attached to the lawsuit, a Los Angles modeling agent estimated the club owes the women $1.78 million for using their photos.
Dr. Salomon Melgen’s practice of using a single vial of a drug to treat multiple elderly patients for a wet macular degeneration went from being a bonanza to a bust, according to those who testified Wednesday in the Palm Beach County ophthalmologist’s trial on 76 charges of health care fraud.
When the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago refused to hear Melgen’s appeal in his long-running dispute with federal health regulators, it dashed his hopes of recouping millions he repaid Medicare when it claimed he wrongly used one vial of the pricey drug Lucentis to treat as many as four patients, a practice known as multi-dosing.
But federal prosecutors, who claim Melgen bilked Medicare out of as much as $105 million by multi-dosing, misdiagnosing and mistreating scores of elderly patients, said millions more are at stake.
The high court’s decision means Melgen won’t be able to get back the $8.9 million he repaid Medicare for multi-dosing patients at clinics in West Palm Beach, Wellington, Delray Beach and Port St. Lucie in 2007 and 2008. But, Medicare officials also want the wealthy, politically-connected retinal specialist to repay another roughly $32 million for multi-dosing patients from 2009 to 2013.
An attorney, whose Washington-based firm has been paid about $5 million to represent Melgen in his unsuccessful legal battle with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, told a federal jury that Melgen is appealing the agency’s claims that he owes it additional money. The appeals, attorney Alan Reider acknowledged, could stretch on for years.
Melgen’s attorneys – including one that works for the same Washington, D.C. law firm as Reider – argued that Melgen’s practice of multi-dosing didn’t cost the Medicare program a dime. Had Melgen bought separate vials of Lucentis for each of his patients, the agency would have reimbursed Melgen roughly $2,000 for each one.
But, prosecutors countered, the practice was lucrative for Melgen. Instead of buying separate vials of Lucentis for three or sometimes four patients, he bought one. But he was reimbursed as if he bought one for each patient.
That means if he used one vial to treat three patients, instead of getting back roughly $2,000 for a single vial, he got back about $6,000. If he used it to treat four patients, he got nearly $8,000.
The trial, which began last month, continues today. Melgen also faces corruption charges in New Jersey along with his longtime friend, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. His multi-dosing of Lucentis, and Menendez’s attempts to intervene in his dispute with federal regulators, figure into the prosecution’s case there as well.
Remember that old criminal charge you’ve always wanted to get removed from your record?
The Palm Beach County court system has a workshop for that.
Officials from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, Palm Beach County Clerk of Court and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday will host a second sealing and expunging workshop for people seeking to have an arrest removed from their record.
Sheriff’s officials in a flyer list eligible participants as people who were ever charged with a crime in a Palm Beach County case that did not result in conviction, adding that people who fit that criteria may be able to a get a single arrest record sealed or expunged.
“Our community becomes safer when those who are eligible under the law for sealing and expungement can get their lives back on track and become successful members of our society,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a press release this week.
The workshop will be held Thursday on the first floor of the main courthouse at 205 North Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, from 3:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Workshop attendees should bring the following:
A Florida driver’s license, Florida issued photo I.D. or U.S. Passport.
A completed “State Attorney’s Preliminary Application for Sealing/Expungement Eligibility,” which can be found at sa15.org.
Any copies of old paperwork available on the arrest. If the case occurred before 2008, call ahead so the clerk has a few days to locate the old file.
For more questions, contact Angel at 561-355-7373 or Lidis at 561-355-7313
Raja’s wife, Karine Antonio Raja, said all the other parents sat her daughter’s preschool would be attending the event and that her five-year-old daughter had asked for both her mother and father to attend.
But Feuer, agreeing with Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis that the request should be denied, called the request “a slippery slope.”
“I simply believe that this just chips away at the importance and essence of house arrest,” Feuer said. “I understand that this is an important day in Mr. Raja’s child’s life, but I think the ramifications that were placed on Mr. Raja’s house arrest should remain at this time.”
Raja was arrested in June, nearly eight months after he approached the 31-year-old stranded motorist in plainclothes and shot him several times after a brief encounter on the off-ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Boulevard.
By then, he had been fired from the department and also let go from a job as a police academy instructor at Palm Beach State College.
Thursday’s hearing brought Raja face to face for the first time with Jones’ father, stepmother and brother, who did not attend his first appearance hearing back in June.
It also marked the first time Raja’s wife has spoken publicly since his arrest.
Feuer at the end of the hearing canceled a status check in the case set for next month and instead asked the lawyers to come back with an update on March 28.
The judge has said she wants to bring the case to trial as early as this summer, but prosecutors alone have listed dozens of potential witnesses that Raja’s defense team will be entitled to interview before trial.
Raja told investigators initially that he identified himself as an officer and only shot at Jones when he charged at him with a gun.
Jones was on the line with a roadside assistance operator at the time, and the recording prosecutors released recently in the case captured no such introduction.
In Raja’s June arrest report, prosecutors also noted Raja’s 911 call, where he repeatedly shouted to someone – presumably Jones – to drop the gun.
But prosecutors claim that according to Jones’ injuries and the time Raja fired his last shots, Jones was likely dead and certainly already on the ground by the time Raja dialed 911.
Raja has been free on house arrest since his arrest and is only permitted to leave the house for work, medical visits, dropping his children off at school and once monthly haircuts.
Chief Assistant State Attorneys Brian Fernandes and Adrienne Ellis in the past have balked at Raja’s requests to relax his house arrest, saying that Jones never had a chance of his own to have children and be with family because of him untimely death.
Raja’s attorney, Richard Lubin, has said that his client is presumed innocent and says he should be free from “a rush to judgement” in the case.
Among the more than 3,000 pages of documents and 50 audio and video recordings in Nouman Raja’s criminal case released Tuesday, the interview more than a year ago with Adnan Raja provides the first insight into the Raja family’s sadness over the loss of life, love for each other and distrust of others in the aftermath of the shooting.
“I think I’m a good guy, he’s 10 times better than I am,” Adnan Raja, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy, said of his only brother. “He’ll give you the shirt off his back, and for the media to portray him the way that they did, I don’t think that was right.”
In his interview with FBI agents, Adnan Raja, formerly a detective with the Riviera Beach Police Department, candidly said his brother’s experience had him thinking about leaving the law enforcement profession.
The undated interview came at least several months before Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg charged Nouman Raja with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder.
Adnan Raja himself would become the subject of news two months after his brother’s shooting of Corey Jones, when he became one of five deputies to involved in the shooting of 48-year-old Olie James Goad in a business plaza on Congress Avenue. Goad survived.
But Adnan Raja’s conversation with police about his brother revealed, perhaps for the first time publicly that Adnan Raja himself was nearly involved in a shooting less than hours after his brother’s 3 a.m. confrontation with Jones, 31.
Adnan Raja said he had a pair of robbery suspects pinned down at 4 a.m., just about the time he received a text from one of his brother’s colleagues at the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. Nouman had been involved in a shooting, the text read. He was OK.
“I was stressed because now, it’s kinda odd because I just almost had someone at gunpoint, and now my brother … til I talk to him I don’t know he’s OK,” Adnan Raja said. “Plus, my mother’s old, I don’t want anything to stress her out.”
The older brother says he remembers reaching out to Nouman Raja, either by phone or text, shortly after he found out. They spoke briefly, just long enough for Adnan Raja to hear his brother was fine.
Their conversations in the days afterward contained little more than basic information, Adnan Raja said. They didn’t trust anyone, he said, and were convinced that someone inside the investigation was talking to the media.
When Adnan Raja wanted to come and visit his brother a couple of days later, Nouman Raja told him not to come because there were too many reporters outside his house. Adnan Raja told his little brother not to go grocery shopping — he would do it for him.
Many things about the aftermath of the shooting frustrated Adnan Raja –aside from public perception.
One was his belief that someone — another officer, he was convinced — had leaked a “word for word” rendition of Nouman’s Raja’s crime scene walk-through with investigators in the aftermath of the shooting.
Prosecutors publicly released an audio recording and transcript of that interview Tuesday. In it, several of Nouman Raja’s statements directly contradict Raja’s own call to 911 after the shooting as well as an audio recording from Jones’ call to a roadside assistance line, which captured his encounter with Raja.
For Adnan Raja, whose assessment of police work in the south was “no one has each other’s back,” the belief that a fellow officer was immediately leaking information about his brother’s case “I thought that below the belt,” he said.
Palm Beach Gardens fired Nouman Raja in November 2015, less than a month after the shooting of Jones, a drummer on his way home from a gig when his SUV broke down on the Interstate 95 southbound exit at PGA Boulevard. By then he had spent eight years as an officer in Atlantis but was only seven months into his job with Gardens.
“I know he was probationary, but hey, c’mon, man, at least, you know, whatever,” Adnan Raja said, adding that he thought the fair thing to do would have been to let the investigation run its course. “We’re a little bit upset, but, we’re not going to talk about it.”
Adnan Raja in the conversation brought up Darren Wilson, the now former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, saying he felt Wilson didn’t get “fair, due process.”
In his brother’s case, Adnan Raja said, he had been portrayed as a knife-wielding bully when the truth was, he said, Nouman Raja was against violence. There was an immediate push to make his brother’s case racial, he said, “but they can’t do that.”
Jones is black and Raja is of Pakistani descent.
The brothers, Adnan Raja said, almost immediately decided to close ranks. Nouman Raja wasn’t talking to any relatives except for his brother and the occasional call to their mother, Adnan Raja said. Neither one of them was talking about the case, period, he said, because his brother “already has enough stress as it is.”
Their focus, Adnan Raja said, was to get his brother a job in another profession. Nouman Raja works in a tactical supply store that sells vests and other equipment primarily to law enforcement officers.
Adnan Raja still works for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
He said he took three days off after the shooting. But at some point shortly afterward, while working a detail at a Wal-Mart shopping center, Adnan Raja said someone looked at his name tag, recognized his last name and started moving toward him.
“And I was just like listen, I suggest you keep on walking,” Adnan Raja recalled.
He said both he and his brother got a number of spoof calls after the shooting, so he stopped answering his phone unless it was a number he recognized. Several calls, including one from a number Adnan Raja believed to be his brother’s former police chief in Atlantis, went unanswered.
In the nearly 15-minute interview with the agents, Adnan Raja painted a grim picture of law enforcement work. Face to face in some encounters, Adnan Raja said, an officer only has two choices.
“You shoot somebody if they point a gun at you, or do you take the bullet and hope you have a lot of life insurance?” he said.
Samuel Turner, who will turn 19 on Thursday, will likely be headed to prison this week after Assistant State Attorney Terri Skiles announced that the state would be dropping a gun charge against him in the case surrounding the October 2014 shooting death of Ivan Redding.
A jury at the end of Turner’s December 2015 first-degree murder trial convicted him of a lesser second-degree murder charge.
Circuit Judge Charles Burton in October sentenced Turner to 30 years in prison, 10 years longer than the 20-year punishment that Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Marshall requested.
Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Ramsey, who represented Turner through the trial, said more than a year ago that she planned to appeal the conviction. The appeal will likely center on video that captured part of the shooting in a car on the 2900 black of Old Dixie Highway, a video Ramsey says raised doubts about whether Turner was the shooter.
“The evidence was weird,” she said. “It was a case where every witness told a story – a very different story.”
Prosecutors said the confrontation between the teens marked the climax of a Facebook war of words between two of Redding’s sisters and Turner’s friend, Fiando Toussaint.
Turner had driven with his sisters to the convenience store on Old Dixie Highway when the sisters saw Toussaint and Turner, resulting in verbal sparring that led to a fist fight between Redding and Turner.
In the aftermath, Assistant State Attorney Lauren Godden told jurors during Turner’s trial, Turner told someone to go get his gun. Moments later, Redding had an ultimately fatal gunshot wound in his chest.
“Everyone knows Samuel Turner lost that fight, that’s why he was so angry,” Godden said.
UPDATE: Federal prosecutors on Tuesday asked that the U.S. magistrate’s decision to allow Melgen to return home be put on hold until the matter is reviewed by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra. Magistrate James Hopkins granted the request which means Melgen will have to call off the moving vans.
After spending more than a year living in his daughter’s Palm Beach Gardens condo, Dr. Salomon Melgen is headed back to his sprawling house on the Intracoastal Waterway to await trial on charges that he defrauded Medicare out of as much as $105 million.
In an order signed this week, U.S. Magistrate James Hopkins said he is no longer concerned that living along the waterway increases the chances the ophthalmologist will flee to his native Dominican Republic. Further, Hopkins ruled that Melgen, who also faces corruption charges in New Jersey with his longtime friend U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, can leave his house near Juno Beach from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. without an escort. But, he said, he must continue to wear an ankle monitor.
In his order, Hopkins noted that Melgen would have gone to trial last month had federal prosecutors shared their witness list with the Melgen’s attorneys as they were required to do under court rules. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra in August reluctantly delayed the trial until next year saying the failure to share the information could have denied Melgen a fair trial.
Melgen and Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, were indicted in April 2015 on corruption charges. Prosecutors claim Melgen showered Menendez with campaign contributions, hotel stays, free trips and other gifts. In exchange, they claim, Menendez lobbied federal agencies to help Melgen in an ongoing dispute over his Medicare billing and other matters, including bringing girlfriends into the country.
Weeks after he was charged in New Jersey, Melgen was charged here with more than 70 health-care related fraud charges in connection with clinics he operated in West Palm Beach, Wellington, Delray Beach and Port St. Lucie. Prosecutors claim he falsely diagnosed and treated scores of elderly patients for macular degeneration. They claim he double-billed Medicare by using one vial of Lucentis, a drug used to treat the malady that causes blindness, to treat multiple patients.
Melgen denies the charges. Before his release from the Palm Beach County jail in July 2015, he was forced to pledge all of his family’s assets – then estimated at $18 million – to secure his release. Since he was ordered to leave his home as part of the original bond deal, Melgen has sold his boat and jet, his attorneys said.
Kimberly Lucas’ Jan. 26 trial date was set in a hearing before Circuit Judge Charles Burton on Monday, a day after Lucas turned 43 years old while behind bars at the Palm each County Jail.
She’s been there since May 2014, after the drowning death of 2-year-old Elliana Lucas-Jamason and attempted murder of Ethan Lucas-Jamason.
Lucas and Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother, had been together for more than 20 years and joined together in a 2001 civil union, but were estranged at the time of the killing. Jamason has said that Lucas suffered from complications from gastric bypass surgery and had subsequently developed a prescription drug problem that contributed to their split.
Lucas first announced that she would be pursuing an insanity defense more than a year ago, after her family hired private defense attorneys Heidi Perlet and Marc Shiner. Now represented by the public defender’s office, her defense at next year’s trial will still be that she suffers from dissociative identity disorder and one of her alters killed Elliana.
A Palm Beach County teen was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for shooting a 16-year-old to death in Riviera Beach after a fight sparked by a feud on Facebook.
The sentencing comes nearly a year after a jury convicted Samuel Turner of second-degree murder in the October 2014 shooting death of Ivan Redding.
The spat on social media was between Turner’s friend, Fiando Toussaint, and two of Redding’s sisters. It escalated when the sisters saw Turner and Toussaint near a convenience store on Old Dixie Highway and began calling them names. At the urging of his sisters, Redding challenged the two boys to a fight.
During the fight, Redding got the best of Turner, which made him angry, prosecutors told jurors. The sisters testified that it was Turner who reached into the car with a gun in his hand and shot Redding once in the chest at close range as the boy sat in the backseat.
Turner’s attorney Jennifer Marshall, asked Circuit Judge Charles Burton to sentence Turner to 20 years in prison.
A federal judge has agreed to postpone a wrongful death suit against Nouman Raja while the former Palm Beach Garden police officer faces criminal charges in the October shooting death of stranded motorist Corey Jones.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt signed an order Monday granting attorney Oscar Marrero’s request to stay a lawsuit filed by Jones’ father, Clinton Jones, Sr., against Raja, who faces manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder charges for shooting the 31-year-old during a roadside confrontation captured on a roadside assistance recorded line.
Prosecutors this summer charged Raja at the end f a months-long investigation and a grand jury session surrounding the deadly encounter that began when Raja drove up the off-ramp of Interstate 95 on PGA Boulevard in an unmarked van and approached Jones in plainclothes.
Raja later told investigators that he shot Jones because the professional drummer, who by day was a housing manager for the Delray Beach Housing Authority, came at him with a gun.
But prosecutors say they caught several inconsistencies in his statement, including the fact that Raja was overheard on a 911 call yelling at Jones to drop a gun when evidence in the case showed he had already fired the shot that killed Jones more than 30 seconds before he made the call.