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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Doylestown Man Sentenced to Prison and $3 Million in Restitution for Drug Treatment Fraud

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A Doylestown man has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud connected to operating substance abuse treatment facilities in the Philadelphia region,  U.S Attorney William M. McSwain  announced last week. 

Branden Coluccio, 37, will  pay restitution in the amount of $3,070,157, forfeiture in the amount of $110,000, and an additional $15,000 fine, scheme involving Liberation Way, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization with treatment centers in Yardley, Bala Cynwyd, and Fort Washington. 

United States District Judge Wendy Beetlestone presided over the sentencing hearing in Philadelphia via video teleconference. 

Investigators exposed a myriad of health care schemes committed by individuals connected to the treatment facility including that of its medical director, prosecutors say including an elaborate kick-back scheme involving thousands of medically-unnecessary urine tests which were sent to Florida-based laboratories for analysis.

Coluccio, a co-founder of Liberation Way, participated in yet another scheme by fraudulently purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients on their behalf, which then allowed Liberation Way to bill insurance companies for expensive “treatment” purportedly provided to these patients. Liberation Way represented that the patients were buying and paying for these policies, when in reality Liberation Way was paying the premiums, which is illegal.

11 employees of the treatment facility were arrested in 2019 for their roles in what prosecutors described as a “massive fraud scheme” in criminal complaints filed with federal and state authorities. 

Four other defendants — Dr. Dominick Braccia, Dr. Ramesh Sarvaiya, Jesse Peters, and Jason Gerner – have all pleaded guilty. The latter three have yet to be sentenced. Dr. Braccia was sentenced by Judge Beetlestone in September 2019 to a term of 37 months in prison.

The treatment facility which included “sober houses” closed its doors in April 2019.  

As made clear by today’s sentencing, my Office will not tolerate health care fraud in any form,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Those who think that they can exploit our health care system and take advantage of at-risk patients are criminals and will face the consequences. Coluccio will rightly spend years in prison and pay millions of dollars as the result of his criminal conduct.”

“Branden Coluccio conspired with others in a health care fraud scheme by unlawfully purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients. The scheme allowed Liberation Way, an organization with several drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, to bill insurance companies for expensive treatment allegedly provided to patients. We will continue to work with our law enforcement officers to protect the integrity of health care benefits,” stated Derek Pickle, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Labar and Kristy Christ.

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Two Women in Separate Incidents, Each with Probation Warrants Set off License Plate Reader Notifications Jailed

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Back to back arrests of two women with arrest warrants whose license plates set off notifications to police were jailed in separate incidents earlier this week.

According to police, on July 15  just before 7 pm., an officer on patrol on the  200 block S. Main street was notified of a hit via the automatic license plate reader  on a vehicle with a registration suspended for insurance cancellation. The officer then observed the same vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on the subject vehicle. Upon confirming that the operator of the vehicle had an active arrest warrant issued by Bucks County Adult Probation, the officer arrested the 42-year-old woman from Yardley on the warrant.  The woman was processed and remanded to Bucks County Prison. The vehicle was released to a family member.  Additional motor vehicle violations may be filed.

On July 16, at approximately 8:18 pm, Yardley Borough Police were on patrol  and received a notification of a hit via the automatic license plate reader on a vehicle with an expired/suspended registration. The officer observed the subject vehicle and utilizing a timing device noted that the subject vehicle was speeding.  The officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle on the 200 block of South Main Street. The driver of the vehicle was determined to be operating the vehicle without a valid license, registration, or insurance, said police.

Upon confirming that the operator of the vehicle had an active arrest warrant issued by Bucks County Adult Probation, the officer arrested a 23-year-old woman from King of Prussia on the warrant.  The woman was processed and remanded to Bucks County Prison. The vehicle was impounded.  Additional motor vehicle violations may be filed. The matter is pending court, police said. 

Both matters are pending court dates.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

More than 80 Police Departments across Southeast Pennsylvania to Target Aggressive Drivers during Statewide Mobilization

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that more than 80 municipal police departments from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties will join the Pennsylvania State Police in a coordinated aggressive driving enforcement wave. This collective effort, part of a statewide mobilization running through August 18, is aimed at reducing the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our area roadways, ensuring your safety on the road.

The enforcement wave will target heavy truck violations, pedestrian safety, red light running, and tailgating. Motorists demonstrating unsafe behaviors, such as driving too fast for conditions or other aggressive actions, will also be cited.

Law enforcement will utilize strategies such as traffic enforcement zones, saturation patrols, speed enforcement details, corridor enforcement, work zone enforcement, and multi-jurisdictional patrol to identify and cite aggressive drivers.
The enforcement is part of Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Program and is funded by part of PennDOT’s investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PennDOT offers these tips:

  • Get out of their way and don’t challenge them.
  • Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and ignore rude gestures.
  • Don’t block the passing lane if you drive slower than most traffic.
  • Do not attempt to follow or pursue the vehicle. You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.
  • >

    According to 2023 PennDOT crash data, there were 1,363 aggressive driving crashes, resulting in 39 fatalities and 104 suspected serious injuries in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Aggressive driving crashes involve at least two aggressive driving factors in the same crash. Factors include, but are not limited to, running stop signs or red lights, tailgating, careless turning or passing, and driving too fast for conditions.

    The goal of targeted enforcement is to reduce the number of aggressive driving-related crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways throughout the state. Any aggressive driver stopped by police will receive a ticket.

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

Local Lawmakers Want to Expand DNA Sampling in Criminal Cases

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Last week a group of Bucks County Republican lawmakers with local authorities held a press conference to discuss changes they said need to be put in place regarding the collection of DNA from potential criminals.

State Senator Frank Farry state Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, Rep. Joe Hogan, Rep. Kristin Marcell, Rep Labs, joined First Assistant District Attorney Ed Louka, Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran, Chief of Lower Southampton Police Department Ted Krimmel, and local law enforcement officials at Comic Collection, in Feasterville to discuss the importance of DNA technology in Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System.

Specifically legislation the legislators  are working on would expand the number of DNA samples in the criminal justice system by requiring post-arrest testing of anyone charged with a felony or certain misdemeanors.  This sample-taking would be much like the established process of taking an arrestee’s fingerprints.  Nineteen states currently collect post-arrest DNA samples.

The press conference highlighted the impressive work by the Lower Southampton Police Department in an investigation of a violent robbery at Comic Collection in September 2022, where a DNA match led to the charging of two Michigan men 18 months after the crime.

It will also in mind the importance of conviction integrity served by advanced use of DNA identification. A sample can prove the innocence of someone else who has been incorrectly accused or convicted and imprisoned for a crime when the DNA ends up matching someone.

SB988, and its companion bill HB2030, would also expand the collection of DNA samples for those offenders convicted of criminal homicide, which under Pennsylvania law are their own classification of crime and technically not classified as felonies. This legislation would close that loophole and require collection of DNA samples from these offenders to solve other cold case murders and crimes.

 

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