A woman branded by prosecutors as the “matriarch of patient brokers” for a Hollywood hospital that fleeced about $40 million from Medicare has been freed by a federal judge in a rare ruling that spares her from spending potentially the rest of her life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga threw out a Miami jury’s guilty verdicts against Tiffany Foster, 49, saying the trial evidence showed that she had “withdrawn” from the scheme to bilk Medicare more than five years before prosecutors filed an indictment against her and others in May 2014.
As a result, Foster should not have been charged because the statute of limitation for that period had already run out. Altonaga concluded that Foster “cannot be punished for the offenses for which she was convicted.”
The clock was ticking for Foster, who faced up to 25 years in prison at her sentencing on April 30.
Foster’s defense lawyers said they were “elated” with the judge’s answer to their post-verdict bid for acquittal — almost always a long shot.
“It is an important decision not only for Tiffany, but for anybody who has made mistakes in the past and long since moved beyond them,” said Miami attorney Marshall Dore Louis, who worked on the defense with Hilary Metz.
Good stuff. A shout out to Dore, but also to Judge Altonaga for having the courage to throw the case out.
Meantime, Paula McMahon is covering the Swap Shop trial in Broward. It's really entertaining and you should check out this entire article. Here's a snippet:
Jurors in the civil suit that pits luxury brand Louis Vuitton against the owners of the Swap Shop flea market in a fight over designer fakes got their first chance Friday to hear from the multimillionaire couple.
And the testimony from Preston and Betty Henn was a doozy.
"Ask me a sensible question," Preston Henn, 84, fired off.
"It's none of your business." "Don't want to." "Don't ask me dumb questions." "I. DON'T. KNOW."
Though lawyers had warned the jury that Henn is "petulant" and "quirky," jurors laughed out loud at times when they saw him in action.
The couple testified about condoms, crayons and cash. They discussed their strong work ethic and how they run their business. But above all else, both Henns — who sat in the courtroom but testified via pre-recorded video footage — made it crystal clear they don't have much patience for other people's questions.
Louis Vuitton's lawsuit accuses the Henns of contributing to the violation of the ritzy designer's trademarks by allowing vendors to sell fake Louis Vuittons at the market on Sunrise Boulevard in Lauderhill. If the Henns are found liable, they could face civil penalties of $1,000 to $2 million per proven trademark violation.
Louis Vuitton argues the Henns knew what was going on right under their noses because they both work at the market seven days a week.
The defense says the couple has taken reasonable steps to try to shut down the sale of counterfeits but that even Louis Vuitton, a multi-billion-dollar operation, has been unable to stem the tide of fakes.
The Henns are millionaires many times over and travel from their Hillsboro Mile home to their Aspen, Colo., retreat in a private jet they bought for about $18 million.
But they don't put on airs.
Preston Henn wears faded blue jeans to court most days and refills his Hard Rock Casino commuter mug from containers he carries to court in a variety of bags — an insulated vinyl shopping tote, a canvas book bag and, one day, one of the family's genuine Louis Vuitton leather handbags.
Betty Henn, 80, told the jury she and her husband resolve their disputes "by screaming at each other." But he gets the final say because, "He's a man."
At the market, they call her "Miss Betty" and vendors know they're playing with fire if they tick her off.
But when the lawyers asked what her job title was, she deadpanned: "Slave."
Jurors laughed. Preston Henn chuckled and patted her arm lovingly.