Archive for September, 2017

Drunk Driver Heading to Prison After Killing Christmas Shopping Grandmother

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

An assistant prosecutor said, a man with a past of intoxicated driving is a “continuing threat’’ who warrants a long prison sentence for a crash in December that killed a Christmas Shopping grandmother.

A grandmother of seven was Christmas shopping when she was involved in a car accident caused by James Michael Williams who had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit. He drove through a flashing red light on the Northeast Side, killing 63-year-old grandmother, Judith Besemer.

“The defendant knew he was a continuing threat to the public, that he was a danger to the community, and then he drove in intentional indifference to the safety to the community,’’ said Alex Grimes, Kent County Assistant Prosecutor to a packed courtroom on Tuesday.

In August Williams pleaded guilty to a crash at East Beltline Avenue at Knapp Street NE that cause a death, while driving under the influence. The crash is considered a felony and carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Grimes called the sentencing guidelines “wholly inadequate,” which are a minimum term of 2½ to 4½ years.

Paul Sullivan, Kent County Circuit Court Judge agreed with Grimes. He stated Williams prior drunk driving convictions and his high blood alcohol level would not be ignored and he sentenced him between 7 to 15 years in prison.

“When I leave here today, I’m going to leave here comfortable that under all the facts and circumstances as I understand them, it is an appropriate sentence,’’ said Sullivan.

Prior to William’s sentencing the victim’s son addressed him and explained how the death of

“I would like Mr. Williams to know that the lying, the deceitfulness and not taking responsibility for his actions ends today,’’ said Justin Besemer with tears in his eyes. “Maybe we can stop another family from going through the devastation that my family has endured and maybe save some lives while we’re at it.’’

Keary Sawyer, Williams’ defense attorney read a letter expressing his client’s remorse on his behalf.

“I accept full responsibility for this tragedy and will continue to live with its realization every day for the rest of my life,’’ read Sawyer. “I’m not presenting any excuse nor blaming anyone else; I just wanted to tell you personally that I’m very, very sorry.’’

Williams, 51, had a history of driving under the influence. He had convictions in 1989 and 1995, he was cited 2010, and was also involved in another accident in March of 2016, while driving with a revoked license.

Besemer’s car was struck when Williams ran a flashing red light on Knap Street NE, his 2008 Cadillac, Besemer’s car was northbound on East Beltline Avenue.

The crash happened at the intersection near Knapp’s Corner shopping center around 12:45 a.m., both Besemer and Williams lived in the area. Besemer’s was only three miles away from her home.

Court records show Williams looked drunk and that he told police he had been consuming alcohol. The sobriety tests done on the scene were failed by Williams, his results showed he had a blood alcohol level of .22 percent on the first test and .23 percent on a second test

Williams had been free on a $50,000 bond. On January 17, a warrant was authorized charging Williams with OUIL causing death, which is a felony punishable with up to a 15-year prison sentence.

Wife Steals Identity and Retirement Account from Husband in Bankruptcy Scam

Friday, September 15th, 2017

A bankruptcy scam like this has never been seen by Veteran financial fraud investigators. An Indiana woman, while still married, managed to steal her husband identity and liquidate his 401(k) among other assets.

“This was certainly a unique case,” Special Agent Doug Kaspe, said. He supervised the investigation from the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. Patricia Bippus-Allen, 58, was sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, subornation of perjury, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in in July. Though, it is still not certain to investigators what her motive was or what she did with the money.

However, it is certain that Bippus- Allen developed a an extravagant plan of bankruptcy fraud in order to get access to her husband’s wages by making several withdraws from his 401(k) retirement account. Bippus-Allen did not act alone, she enlisted the help of her brother, who would pretend to be her husband.

Bippus-Allen filed for joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in September of 2010 on behalf of her and her husband in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Her husband of over 25 years, however, did not know what she had done.

One of the investigators, Special Agent Paul Medernach said, “He trusted his wife to handle all the family finances. He never used a computer, and never saw his pay stub because his check went into his bank account through direct deposit.”

During the bankruptcy proceedings, Bippus-Allen would forge her husband’s signature on important documents and she also provide an alibi as to why her husband couldn’t attend all the preceding meetings. On one occasion, she created a doctor’s note stating that her husband was hospitalized for 30 days and under his supervision and that during this time he was unable to see visitors and take phone calls.

“That was all a lie,” said Medernach. “She faked the letter and the doctor’s signature. Her husband had never been under the doctor’s care.”

Her brother’s involvement was a result of her husband’s presence being required at a meeting with creditors in March 2011. Bippus-Allen convinced her brother, David Bippus, to pretend he was her husband and under oath he swore to be her husband. This confirmed the bankruptcy and established monthly payments to Bippus-Allen’s trustee for 60 months. Her husband had no knowledge that $74,000 was being deducted from his direct deposits and that Bippus-Allen had gained access to his account.

At the same time, Bippus- Allen was transferring money into her personal accounts from her husband’s 401(k) account. She was able to transfer money several times by pretending to be her husband with false documentation. The unauthorized withdrawals totaled $24,000 or more, that’s not including the $16,000 in loans from her husband’s 401(k), that she withdrew from her unknowing husband’s consent.

Medernach mentioned that it was not that shocking to see an angered wife or husband steal money form a spouse. “But not many spouses would go to these lengths—to find someone to impersonate a spouse and to forge documents like doctor’s notes and a driver’s license.”

The scam might have continued to work for Bippus-Allen, if not for a fortunate coincidence for her husband. A relative of her husband worked as a paralegal for an Indiana bankruptcy attorney and recognized his name on the court’s docket. The relative questioned the husband and when he was not aware of the bankruptcy she proceeded to call law enforcement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigators worked very close to undo the web of fraud and serve charges to Bippus-Allen and her brother. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office was eager to prosecute this case because it sends a clear message,” Kasper said. “For husbands or wives who might have similar ideas about defrauding their spouses, they should know there are serious penalties for such actions.”

Judge Investigates Ethicon’s Link in Pelvic Mesh Mass Tort

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

The judge supervising the pelvic mesh mass tort litigation, pointed out that the defendant which is based in New Jersey may have a “strong” affiliation with the mesh-manufacturer in Pennsylvania, however, he probed whether that connection would be enough to keep the over 90 pelvic mesh cases that involve plaintiffs who live out of state.

Arnold New, Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas judge, heard the arguments made on Wednesday regarding whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California in which 90 out-of-states plaintiff’s suing Ethicon, the medical device company based out of New Jersey would have their cases thrown out leaving only 30 pelvic mesh cases in Philadelphia.

The ruling in regard to Bristol-Myers, stated that out-of-state plaintiffs are not able to sue companies in which the defendants aren’t considered to be “at home,” or they have not conducted business which would be directly related to the claimed injury.

That decision secured the relationship between drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb and McKesson Corp., a California drug distributor. Since McKesson distributed Plavix, the drug in question in the case, the plaintiffs had argued that the jurisdiction fell under California in hundreds of Plavix-related claims. The justices, however, found the affiliation between McKesson and Bristol-Myers Squibb was not suitable to establish jurisdiction in the state Of California.

Subsequently after the ruling in June, many defendants have brought up Bristol-Myers and have requested the courts toss out the plaintiff’s mass tort programs in other state courts around the country.

Plaintiffs in the pelvic mesh program have pointed out that a Pennsylvania- based company, Secant, is arguing that the manufactured plastic mesh material used in the mesh implants is the reason why the jurisdiction is in Pennsylvania, when the main defendant, is based in New Jersey, which is Johnson & Johnson a subsidiary Ethicon.

In an almost 90- minute hearing on Wednesday, Drinker Biddle & Reath attorney Alicia Hickok was asked by New to describe Ethicon’s connection with Secant comparing them to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s connection with McKesson.

“Your honor, it’s a different relationship,” said Hickok.

“I agree,” New interjected. “It’s a stronger relationship.”

Hickok, however, stated the relationship had to go directly to each plaintiff’s alleged cause of action in their lawsuit.

The causes of action in the case of pelvic mesh plaintiffs were defective design and failure to warn, however Hickok noticed that those decisions and regulation submissions were done by Ethicon executives in New Jersey.

“These were not responsibilities as to people who were in Pennsylvania,” Hickok stated. The use of a roll of mesh manufactured in Pennsylvania “is not enough to say the cause of action arises out of it.”

Secant was dismissed before as a defendant in the pelvic mesh litigation noted Hickok, but New disregarded that comment, noting that the earlier ruling regarding Secant hung on issues occurring out of the Biomaterials Access Assurance Act.

“That’s an entirely different definition than would be applicable to what’s before us today, which is jurisdiction,” New said.

The judge assigned to the pelvic mesh mass tort litigation stated that the New Jersey based defendant may have a “strong” relationship with a Pennsylvania mesh-manufacturer, however, he probed whether the relationship would be enough to hold jurisdiction over the 90 out of state plaintiffs involving pelvic mesh suits.

Brave Women Sacrifice Car in Order to Block DUI Suspect

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

In Florida three women took it upon themselves to stop an alleged drunk driver from harming others. They instead put themselves at risk by forcing the DUI driver to crash into their car. The car rear-ended the women’s car but successfully stopped the suspects’ car.

Two of the women whose car stopped the suspects’ car were identified as Suzzette Williams, Angelina Powell, the third woman was not identified.

The driver suspected of driving under the influence was identified as Brittany Sharp, a 25-year-old young woman from Cape Coral. Sharp’s erratic driving was spotted on Sunday near Fort Myers.

While in her Nissan Sentra Williams spotted Sharp allegedly weaving through lanes, hitting curbs, and then going on to Interstate 75, so she decided to follow.

While William’s was focus on driving, one of her passengers was on the phone with the police describing the situation. The other passenger was broadcasting the event on Facebook live.

Williams eventually surpassed Sharp and was able to slam on her brakes in front of the Chevrolet. It ended up making Sharp rear-end Williams, and she was forced to make a complete stop.

Sharp sustained minor injuries as a result of the collision. When Florida highway patrol arrived on the scene they immediately took Sharp to Fort Myers’ Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Sharp was eventually charged with a DUI, among other charges such as careless driving, and driving with a suspended license. Per The News-Press, Sharp remains in custody without bond at the Lee County jail and on September 18th is expected to appear in court.

At this time it is unclear how much damage was sustained by William’s car or if any of William’s passengers were injured.

The women were praised for calling 911 by Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Greg Bueno, however he did not recommend that others follow this example of stopping a driver “like this on their own.”

“If you’re able to call in a description of a car, direction, a tag, all that is beneficial,” stated Bueno. “But what we don’t want is of course for any other secondary collisions or for someone to get hurt.”

Jury Awards $3.35 Million to Philadelphia Woman’s Medical Malpractice Suit

Monday, September 4th, 2017

As a result of St. Mary Medical Centers delay in cancer diagnosis, a jury for a medical malpractice suit awarded a Bensalem woman $3.35 million in damages.

According to Philadelphia court records, after several days of trial a verdict of multi-million dollars was delivered against a Middletown hospital and a pair of radiologists.

The result of the trial found radiologist Dr. Roy M. Prager and Dr. Paul J. Weiser negligent in 2012 and 2013, when Ewa Kesicka’s breast cancer went undiagnosed in spite of the multiple mammograms showing questionable deposits or calcifications.

Since the 54-year-old woman’s cancer was over was not caught early she was eventually diagnosed in late 2013 with stage 3 breast cancer. Due to her advance cancer, she had to endure painful and invasive surgeries which could have been avoided said her Lawyer Rob Ross, of the Philadelphia-based firm Ross Feller Casey.

The postponement of treatment will also increase a woman’s risk of her cancer returning according to her attorney.

On Friday Ross said, “Now every day of her life she has to worry about when and if this cancer is going to come back.”

No immediate response to messages left on Friday from the defendants’ attorney. However, St. Mary Medical center was reached on Friday and although they did not provide a comment in regard to the verdict they did state in an email “as a matter of policy we cannot provide details about any specific patient.”

A suit was filed in August of 2014 on behalf of Kesickas’s by Ross, during the trial he argued that she received regular mammograms since 2009, when the first doctor first noticed calcifications. The growths were determined to be benign after more comprehensive exams were conducted, Ross said in transcripts for the trial.

Results from Kesickas series of mammograms conducted in 2012 and 2013, did not show evidence of cancer and the lawsuit reports that after both mammograms the only recommendations were an annual follow up. Dr. Prager wrote in 2012, “there is no mammographic evidence of malignancy,” according to the suit.

Kesicka, noted a lump in her armpit during a gynecologist visit in October of 2013, which lead to a number of screenings after her doctor noticed another lump in her breast. After several tests, the results showed Kesicka had stage 3 breast cancer.