The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to review a local Medicare fraud case that challenges the federal government's freezing of a defendant's assets before trial even if they are not traceable to criminal activity.
The petition, brought by Miami criminal defense attorneys Howard and Scott Srebnick, asserts that the government violated the constitutional rights of their client, home healthcare operator Sila Luis, when Justice Department prosecutors froze her “untainted” — or substitute —assets.
Luis was charged with conspiring to defraud the Medicare program of $45 million. But her criminal prosecution was put on hold while she contested the government’s seizure of her untainted assets, which prevented Luis from hiring the criminal defense attorney of her choice.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge Paul Huck allowed prosecutors to take such action against her, a ruling that was upheld by a federal appeals court in Atlanta. The Supreme Court will now review the case during its next term.
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Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Howard Srebnick’s petition challenging the government’s pre-trial seizure of a defendant’s “tainted” assets derived from criminal conduct.