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Schumer: Focus on Health Law Was a Political Mistake

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:54pm
Democrats smarting from this year’s midterm losses need to embrace their pro-government roots and refocus on coherent policies to help the middle class, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said, citing the 2010 federal health-care law as a political miscalculation.

Don't burn down your house this holiday season

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 4:50pm

Dreaming of a fiery Christmas like this scene from "The Santa Clause"?

We didn't think so. And according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than any other days of the year. (Video via The Tennessean)

In 2011, the U.S. lost $11.7 billion to fires, so if you've already broken the bank with your holiday shopping, it's probably not a bad idea to take extra precautions. (Video via U.S. Fire AdministrationABC)

For one, always stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. It's recommended you turn the stove off even if leaving for a short time. It's not a bad idea to set a timer to remind you that you have something cooking if you are leaving it to bake or boil. (Video via National Fire Protection Association)

And even though it may sound appealing, the Fire Administration warns turkey fryers are pretty dangerous. It's possible to tip them over, and any amount of spilled cooking oil could possibly start a fire. 

If a grease fire does break out, WFTS shows how throwing water on the fire will actually make it worse. If a fire extinguisher is not readily available, you should try to suffocate the fire using a lid or a cookie sheet. 

It's not just cooking that poses a fire hazard over the holidays, either. Christmas trees have proven dangerous too.

It's important to remember to avoid any heat source such as fireplaces or radiators when putting up a tree. The tree also needs to be watered regularly because a dried-out tree can go up in flames more quickly. (Video via State Farm)

And be sure to check that the string of lights around the tree has no broken cords or loose bulb connections. It's best to avoid putting candles near the tree or drapes as well. (Video via NBC)

And your most important holiday preparation tip? Make sure you have sufficient homeowners or renters insurance. You know, just in case.

"Hi. Um, we were trying to fry a turkey and ... the fryer has caught on fire," a woman says in this YouTube video.

"That is exactly why you want a high-quality fire extinguisher right in the kitchen."

This video includes images from Getty Images, Didriks / CC BY 2.0 and Nik Sebastian / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

Ferguson Uneasy After Violent Night

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:47pm
More protests were planned throughout the region after a grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Fannie, Freddie Give Some Relief to Foreclosed Homeowners

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:44pm
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow homeowners now in foreclosure to buy back their properties at market value, a reversal of previous policy that had prohibited such transactions.

Police look into report of kidnapping attempt

Ventura County Star - Local News - November 25, 2014 - 4:42pm

Police said Tuesday they were investigating a report that somebody tried to kidnap two young children the day before in northwest Ventura.

A 7-year-old boy and his cousin, a 10-year-old girl, told police they were walking about 5 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of Dakota Drive near two men in a dark-colored, four-door car. The passenger called to the children, got out of the car, grabbed the boy by the shirt and tried to pull him into the vehicle, the children told police.

The children ran away and got help, but the two men and car were gone by the time police arrived, authorities said.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Casey Sutherland at 339-4467.

Police look into report of kidnapping attempt

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 4:42pm

Police said Tuesday they were investigating a report that somebody tried to kidnap two young children the day before in northwest Ventura.

A 7-year-old boy and his cousin, a 10-year-old girl, told police they were walking about 5 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of Dakota Drive near two men in a dark-colored, four-door car. The passenger called to the children, got out of the car, grabbed the boy by the shirt and tried to pull him into the vehicle, the children told police.

The children ran away and got help, but the two men and car were gone by the time police arrived, authorities said.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Casey Sutherland at 339-4467.

Amid Global Slowdown, U.S. Growth Keeps Looking Better

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:38pm
The economy expanded at its fastest pace in more than a decade during the spring and summer, showing the U.S. has strengthened its economic footing despite increasing global uncertainty.

Leslie Feinberg, Writer and Transgender Activist, Dies at 65

NY Times Books - November 25, 2014 - 4:18pm
Feinberg’s 1993 novel, “Stone Butch Blues,” is considered a landmark in the contemporary literature of gender complexity.






Congressional Talks On Tax Breaks Stall

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:18pm
Congressional negotiations to extend a slate of temporary tax breaks stalled Tuesday when the White House pushed back on a deal under discussion on Capitol Hill.

GOP Working on Plan to Avoid Government Shutdown

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 25, 2014 - 4:17pm
Congressional Republicans are considering a way to keep most of the government running through next fall, while extending federal funding connected to immigration just until early 2015 to push back against the president’s executive action.

The future is in the research

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 4:02pm

The voters have spoken and come January there will be more red ties worn by Republicans in Washington than there are today trying to turn this country around.

It is interesting to note that only 36.4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the midterm general election, marking the lowest voter turnout in 72 years, according to Thinkprogress. The same source goes on to say the last time voter turnout was this low was in 1942 just after the United States entered World War II when 33.9 percent of eligible voters participated in the election.

I am no political pundit and my comments are not for or against any political party. Instead, since paying up to $10,000 a year since 1999 for independent research that I study closely I will share with you what to look for in determining how to read the economic tea leaves.

Industry apology

Let me begin by offering an apology for my industry. I entered the securities industry early 1979 and the common point of view is that it is not possible to understand the markets. My industry has investors believe it’s all a random walk on Wall Street and that most of us are not smart enough to comprehend what drives the markets so investors must rely on educated sales people who have an agenda to make more money as we underwrite stock and push proprietary models and products. We will keep this discussion simple, because after all, it may not be easy, but it really is simple to understand.

When we look at the power of total spending by country as ranked by gross domestic product, according to the World Bank in 2013 the U.S. is No. 1 in the world at $16.8 trillion. China stands at $9.24 trillion in U.S. dollars. As we drill down deeper we can see a report every year released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics called the Consumer Expenditure Survey. As an analogy suppose you had three dogs in your backyard, Which one would you watch the closest? You will probably pay close attention to the biggest and baddest dog, as that is the one that can do the most damage to your property and to people. We see there are three dogs or groups that constitute the U.S. economy relative to total spending: government, business, and the consumer. Economists don’t often agree on much, but where they do agree thanks to the same source is that the consumer stands in first position with about 70 percent of total spending in the U.S., followed by business at 20 percent, and government at 10 percent. So the consumer is the dog or group to watch the closest. Business and government contribute to total spending, but it is the consumer group that is driving the economic bus.

Red vs. blue

Reflect on the past two presidential elections when you stayed up all night to see which candidate would take office. The great surprise is that you could have turned off the TV after the polls closed in Ohio. You may not know anyone in Ohio, but that was the state that gave you all of the information you needed to know about how the rest of the country would fall in line. Keeping it simple, the most famous average family lives in Springfield, a mid-sized town maybe in the Midwest. The 2013 average household income in the country income, whether there are one or two people working, is $51,100, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From the same source, when we take a look at Thousand Oaks we can see that the average household income is about $100,000. With the national average at around $51,000 and the local average about $100,000, how are you and your family doing? How much can you save? Now that we know we must watch the average person if we want to ask the question are you the consumer spending more or saving more money?

Your child is 25 years old this year. What must parents buy 25-year-old children? Not much. When we look at average families, as represented in the HS Dent Research, peak income and peak earning takes place between ages 46-50. As children finish school and move out in their early 20s, the parents’ spending requirements suddenly become optional. The number of 46-year-olds peaked in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. The most fundamental driver to the U.S. economy is average people, each one unique, doing very predictable things in life. For example, most Americans get their first job at 20, buy their first car at 25, get married at 26, have their first child at 28, and buy their first home at 31. We tend to buy the largest home we will soon never need after the kids go to school or move away in our mid to late 40s.

Skewed Assets

The bottom 50 percent of Americans owned just 1 percent of all assets in 2013, down from 3 percent in 1989, according to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. From the same source we see that the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans owned 63 percent of all assets in the country last year. While the average peak earning and peak spending takes place in the late 40s age peak spending for the wealthy is age 53. As we have noted here before, the year that the highest number of 53-year-olds peak just happens to be 2014, according to the HS Dent Research and the Census Bureau. In Sept., 45 percent of 2,022 Americans surveyed said they do not believe that their financial situation will rebound in their lifetime to the level it was before the 2008 global financial crisis, according to Harris Poll. You might be managing today, but just suppose that the policy makers’ smoke and mirrors short-term fixes that may help produce election success results in global depression sometime soon. Before you get too complacent again, now is the time to get your house in order.

John Grace is president of Investor’s Advantage Corp. in Westlake Village. He is a registered principal of National Planning Corp and a master certified and charger member of HS Dent Advisor’s Network.

Screenings, seminars and other events planned

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 3:54pm

Camarillo

Programs scheduled

The Pleasant Valley Senior Center will offer a variety of programs at 1605 E. Burnley St.:

A free showing of “God’s Not Dead” will begin at 1 p.m. Dec. 4.

SCAN Education Center will present a seminar on senior prevention screenings and vaccines from 10-11 a.m. Dec. 11.

A workshop for volunteer drivers and those needing rides will begin at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 18.

Call 482-4881 for details.

Moorpark

Ride talk planned

Mobility Management Partners will share information about Catch a Ride at 1 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Moorpark Active Adult Center, 799 Moorpark Ave.

The program has seniors recruit someone to drive them for various needs. They will be reimbursed for the mileage.

Reservations are required. Call 517-6261.

Santa Paula

Fitness class set

The Santa Paula Senior Center will offer a class emphasizing bones, balance and strength training from 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Jan. 22 at 530 W. Main St.

Cost is $32. Call 933-4226.

Simi Valley

Council will meet

The Simi Valley Senior Center will host a Council on Aging Meeting at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 at 3900 Avenida Simi.

Visit http://www.simivalley.org/coa or call 583-6363 to learn more.

 

Works by Boulez, Wilco drummer coming to Ojai

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 3:42pm

The Ojai Music Festival may be entering its 69th season, but it doesn’t plan to start acting its age anytime soon.

When the internationally acclaimed festival takes place again from June 10-14, it will feature visiting music director Steven Schick in a piece that requires him to use his bare chest as a percussion instrument.

It will stay out late and get up early, in one case assembling audiences at 5 a.m. for a nearly five-hour performance of Morton Feldman’s “For Philip Guston” in the Ojai Art Center. (There is talk of providing pillows and blankets for attendees.)

And it will highlight, in a free community concert in the Libbey Park Gazebo, a work by percussionist Glenn Kotche, drummer for the alternative rock band Wilco.

These were just some of the 2015 programming details revealed by the festival’s artistic director, Thomas Morris, during a launch party for donors and supporters at the organization’s Signal Street office.

Another:

“(The festival) is creeping into Wednesday for the first time,” said Morris.

By adding a day to the schedule, festival organizers are able to include programming designed to honor the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez as he marks his 90th birthday.

On June 10, ticket holders will be able to sit in on a panel discussion about Boulez before attending the West Coast premiere of “A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez.”

The multimedia work was given its world premiere this month as part of the Chicago Symphony’s Beyond the Score series. By combining live and recorded music with sets by architect Frank Gehry and rare documentary footage of Boulez, it creates the impression of “getting inside his brain,” said Morris.

Boulez, who served as the festival’s music director seven times between 1967 and 2003, is unable to travel from his home in Baden-Baden, Germany to attend in person, Morris said. But his works will be featured in at least six concerts, making Boulez a guiding presence at the 2015 festival.

Boulez is one of a record-setting 34 composers — 24 of them living, and 17 of them new to the festival — whose works will be heard during the 37 events planned “so far,” Morris said. Those events will include movie screenings, late-night concerts, and even-later night gatherings at local restaurants.

Specific details about the festival schedule weren’t discussed publicly before the launch party, a fact that hasn’t harmed sales, Morris said.

“We have already sold over 40 percent of tickets, and we have not announced a program ... We simply said, ‘Here are the dates and a few of the artists’,” he added.

In other recent festival news, the organization’s board of directors in August named David Nygren as president.

Nygren, a Santa Barbara resident who has served on the board since 2011 and is the founder and chief executive officer of Nygren Consulting LLC, takes over for Stephen Morris, who continues to serve on the festival’s executive committee.

Thomas Morris, who joined the organization as artistic director in 2004, agreed this month to extend his contract through 2021, the festival’s 75th anniversary season. He previously announced the selection of Peter Sellars and Esa-Pekka Salonen as music directors for the festival in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

IF YOU GO

What: The 69th Ojai Music Festival will feature Steven Schick as music director and a program that includes West Coast premieres of John Luther Adams' "Sila: The Breath of the World" and of the Chicago Symphony's Beyond the Score production of "A Pierre Dream" honoring Pierre Boulez.

When: June 10-14, 2015

Passes: Tickets for the June 10 performance of "A Pierre Dream" ($40-$90) and weekend, three-day and four-day festival passes with reserved seating ($120-$730) are available now. Single ticket sales will begin in March.

Video: To see a clip of "A Pierre Dream," click here.

Information: Call 805-646-2053 or click on www.ojaifestival.org.

 

 

Exhibitions, speakers and other events planned

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 3:40pm

Camarillo

Program to feature student artwork

The art program at CSU Channel Islands will present “The Art of the Book” from Monday through Jan. 19 at the university’s Palm Gallery, 92 Palm Drive.

An opening reception will take place from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 4. The exhibit will showcase books made in artist/faculty member Beverly Decker’s Special Topics Art 490 class, as well as the final projects of students in the Art 106 Color and Design course.

Email art@csuci.edu or call 437-2772 for more information.

Ojai

Birthday hike is open to public

Longtime Ventura resident Wayne Overton, a retired math teacher at Hueneme High School in Oxnard, will celebrate his 80th birthday with a hike to Nordhoff Peak from Cozy Dell trailhead at 7 a.m. Dec. 6.

The 14-mile round trip hike is open to the public. Participants should meet at the trailhead at 6:50 a.m.

Contact his son John Overton at john.overton@venturausd.org for more information.

Santa Paula

Author will share about his book

John Pendleton will share thoughts and ideas from the second volume of his two-volume book “An American Identity: Heroism, Innovation and Popular Culture” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Blanchard Community Library, 119 N. Eighth St.

Call 525-3615 for more information.

Thousand Oaks

Exhibit to spotlight Santa Paula artist

More than 1,000 gold sculptures of heroic figures by Santa Paula artist Gerald Zwers will be the centerpiece of an exhibit titled “A Dream of Utopia” from Tuesday through Feb. 4 in the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture at California Lutheran University, 60 W. Olsen Road.

A reception will begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the gallery. Visit http://www.callutheran.edu/kwan_fong or call Michael Pearce at 444-7716 for more information.

Ventura

Hospital will host holiday boutique

Community Memorial Hospital’s auxiliary gift shop will have its annual holiday boutique from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Nicholas Auditorium on the eighth floor of the hospital, 147 N. Brent St.

It will include handcrafted items and homemade baked goods. Volunteers are welcome.

Call 652-5043 for more information.

Service will help honor loved ones

Cypress Place Senior Living will have a candlelight memorial service at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at 1200 Cypress Point Lane.

There will be speakers and music. Guests can light a candle in honor of a loved one.

Seating is limited. Call 650-8000 to reserve a seat.

Ventura County

Visitor centers plan holiday sales

The visitor centers of the Santa Monica Mountains will host a holiday sale Saturday and Sunday at King Gillette Ranch, 26876 Mulholland Highway in Calabasas, and Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, 4121 Potrero Road in Newbury Park.

The public can enjoy up to 75 percent off all store items except handcrafted goods from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call 370-2302 for more information.

Fire stations support toy drive

The Ventura County Fire Department is supporting the Spark of Love toy drive, with all fire stations in the county serving as drop-off points for new, unwrapped toys.

The program will run through Dec. 24. Gifts donated in Ventura County stay here. Donors are encouraged to consider items for teens and infants.

Call 389-9710 for more information.

 

Pierre Huyghe's First Retrospective Lands at LACMA

New York Times - California News - November 25, 2014 - 3:30pm
One of Los Angeles’s most anticipated exhibitions of the year, it is also one of the city’s most seductive, inscrutable and generally impressive shows in recent memory.

Books of The Times: ‘Selected Letters,’ Norman Mailer’s Correspondence

NY Times Books - November 25, 2014 - 2:46pm
“Selected Letters of Norman Mailer” presents 714 of the more than 45,000 pieces of correspondence he wrote to his wives, children, friends, critics and a Who’s Who of world culture and letters.






Fillmore will run senior center

Ventura County Star - Local News - November 25, 2014 - 2:46pm

The city of Fillmore has decided not to renew the lease of the nonprofit that operates the city-owned Fillmore Senior Center, and will start running the center itself next year.

The new arrangement will go into effect in July 2015, once the city’s lease with Fillmore Senior Center Inc. expires, City Manager David Rowlands said. The nonprofit had been negotiating with the city on extending the lease, but the City Council decided instead to take over the senior center’s operations.

The Fillmore Senior Center is in downtown Fillmore, just off Central Avenue, and offers meals and other programs to the city’s elderly residents. The nonprofit took over the center and its programs in 2010, said Patti Walker, the chairwoman of the nonprofit board and a former city council member. The group pays the city for a portion of the building’s utility costs.

Walker said there have been some disagreements with the city over the management of the center, but she was surprised last week when Rowlands told her the lease would not be renewed.

“I thought we were going to work through these things, but obviously they felt otherwise,” Walker said.

One source of conflict, Walker said, was whether the city would allow other programs at the center while the senior programs are going on in the main room. The city held English classes in the next room, and also invited the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging to hold a nutrition program in the kitchen, Walker said. Both of those conflicted with the senior center board’s desire to expand its midday programs.

The City Council decision to stop leasing out the senior center came last week during a closed session of the regular council meeting. The session was closed because the Brown Act, the state law that covers public meetings, allows cities to discuss real estate negotiations behind closed doors.

In this case, it appears Fillmore may have violated the law, said Peter Scheer, the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition and a Brown Act expert.

“It sounds like those are really two separate decisions, and they could have and should have discussed the second one, whether to contract out the senior center or take over the service, in public,” Brown said.

Tiffany Israel, Fillmore’s city attorney, said the council was within its rights to make the decision in closed session. Israel and Rowlands brought a proposed lease extension to the council, she said, and council members decided not to adopt it.

“We convened the closed session to talk about the price and terms of the lease that was up to be renewed, and that was all that we talked about,” she said. “The decision not to renew it was unexpected, but it was a possible outcome.”

Fillmore Mayor Manuel Minjares said the council decided to take over the center because there have been “some serious concerns about how the senior center is being run.” He would not elaborate.

Minjares said he would be open to talking about the senior center in public at a future council meeting.

The city also had financial reasons to take over the senior center. Rowlands said the nonprofit was originally formed because at the time, the city couldn’t afford to run senior programs at the center.

“It’s not so much that we’re unhappy with the job they’re doing,” Rowlands said. “The city did run the operations before, and we felt that with the way our finances are coming back into place, we would have the resources and the staff to do it again.”

Rowlands said he didn’t think running the senior center would cost the city much, because most of its programs are funded by outside grants.

In addition to meals and nutrition programs, the senior center also offers arts and crafts classes, a swim program and other activities. Rowlands said the city plans to expand those offerings when it takes over full operation of the center.

“We are looking at programs to offer and we will put together a plan over the next few months, and we will take that to the City Council and Parks Commission,” he said. “I think people will see some enhancements. We’re trying to take the good things they’re doing and build on that.”

Fillmore will run senior center

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 2:46pm

The city of Fillmore has decided not to renew the lease of the nonprofit that operates the city-owned Fillmore Senior Center, and will start running the center itself next year.

The new arrangement will go into effect in July 2015, once the city’s lease with Fillmore Senior Center Inc. expires, City Manager David Rowlands said. The nonprofit had been negotiating with the city on extending the lease, but the City Council decided instead to take over the senior center’s operations.

The Fillmore Senior Center is in downtown Fillmore, just off Central Avenue, and offers meals and other programs to the city’s elderly residents. The nonprofit took over the center and its programs in 2010, said Patti Walker, the chairwoman of the nonprofit board and a former city council member. The group pays the city for a portion of the building’s utility costs.

Walker said there have been some disagreements with the city over the management of the center, but she was surprised last week when Rowlands told her the lease would not be renewed.

“I thought we were going to work through these things, but obviously they felt otherwise,” Walker said.

One source of conflict, Walker said, was whether the city would allow other programs at the center while the senior programs are going on in the main room. The city held English classes in the next room, and also invited the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging to hold a nutrition program in the kitchen, Walker said. Both of those conflicted with the senior center board’s desire to expand its midday programs.

The City Council decision to stop leasing out the senior center came last week during a closed session of the regular council meeting. The session was closed because the Brown Act, the state law that covers public meetings, allows cities to discuss real estate negotiations behind closed doors.

In this case, it appears Fillmore may have violated the law, said Peter Scheer, the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition and a Brown Act expert.

“It sounds like those are really two separate decisions, and they could have and should have discussed the second one, whether to contract out the senior center or take over the service, in public,” Brown said.

Tiffany Israel, Fillmore’s city attorney, said the council was within its rights to make the decision in closed session. Israel and Rowlands brought a proposed lease extension to the council, she said, and council members decided not to adopt it.

“We convened the closed session to talk about the price and terms of the lease that was up to be renewed, and that was all that we talked about,” she said. “The decision not to renew it was unexpected, but it was a possible outcome.”

Fillmore Mayor Manuel Minjares said the council decided to take over the center because there have been “some serious concerns about how the senior center is being run.” He would not elaborate.

Minjares said he would be open to talking about the senior center in public at a future council meeting.

The city also had financial reasons to take over the senior center. Rowlands said the nonprofit was originally formed because at the time, the city couldn’t afford to run senior programs at the center.

“It’s not so much that we’re unhappy with the job they’re doing,” Rowlands said. “The city did run the operations before, and we felt that with the way our finances are coming back into place, we would have the resources and the staff to do it again.”

Rowlands said he didn’t think running the senior center would cost the city much, because most of its programs are funded by outside grants.

In addition to meals and nutrition programs, the senior center also offers arts and crafts classes, a swim program and other activities. Rowlands said the city plans to expand those offerings when it takes over full operation of the center.

“We are looking at programs to offer and we will put together a plan over the next few months, and we will take that to the City Council and Parks Commission,” he said. “I think people will see some enhancements. We’re trying to take the good things they’re doing and build on that.”

Former Ventura surgeon accused of fraud

Ventura County Star - Local News - November 25, 2014 - 2:40pm

A former Ventura neurosurgeon who was sued by more than two dozen people and surrendered his California medical license was arrested Monday in Michigan on suspicion of federal health care fraud.

Dr. Aria Omar Sabit, of Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit, is being accused by the FBI of performing spinal fusion surgeries but not implanting devices on the spine. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan accuses Sabit of billing private and government insurance agencies for his care and leading patients into thinking the full procedures were completed.

All of the allegations involve patients in Michigan.

Sabit’s attorney, Mark Kriger, of Detroit, said the surgeon will plead not guilty. He’s being held without bond until a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Before moving to Michigan, Sabit’s practice was based in Ventura. He performed surgeries at Community Memorial Hospital for 17 months, ending in late 2010. His stint in the area triggered a landslide of lawsuits alleging malpractice. Many but not all of the cases have been settled.

The California Medical Board accused Sabit of performing unnecessary procedures and committing gross negligence. In August, Sabit gave up his California medical license.

The FBI criminal complaint said Sabit is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security. In a civil case filed in federal court in California, Department of Justice officials alleged Sabit submitted Medicare claims tainted by his role as an investor in a company that sold the implants he used.

Sabit denied the allegations.

In the complaint that triggered Monday’s arrest, federal officials allege four patients were told by Sabit they needed spinal procedures involving devices implanted in their backs.

“All patients received second opinions from other doctors stating that no such spinal fusion had been performed and there was no evidence of any screw, or any medical device in the spinal column of the patient,” FBI Special Agent Peter Hayes said in the complaint.

The complaint said that from 2011 to 2014, Sabit billed government and private insurance agencies for at least $32.8 million in claims and was paid $1.8 million.

“I don’t believe it is appropriate to comment on pending cases,” said Kriger, Sabit’s attorney. “I think the proper forum is the courtroom.”

The fraud accusation carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The criminal complaint also alleges Sabit, born in Afghanistan, illegally became a U.S. citizen in 2013. The FBI alleges he was ineligible for naturalization because he committed health care fraud and did not disclose it.

The complaint against Sabit was originally sealed. Hayes said the doctor was considered a flight risk. The complaint was unsealed Monday, the same day Sabit was arrested.

Former Ventura surgeon accused of fraud

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 25, 2014 - 2:40pm

A former Ventura neurosurgeon who was sued by more than two dozen people and surrendered his California medical license was arrested Monday in Michigan on suspicion of federal health care fraud.

Dr. Aria Omar Sabit, of Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit, is being accused by the FBI of performing spinal fusion surgeries but not implanting devices on the spine. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan accuses Sabit of billing private and government insurance agencies for his care and leading patients into thinking the full procedures were completed.

All of the allegations involve patients in Michigan.

Sabit's attorney, Mark Kriger, of Detroit, said the surgeon will plead not guilty. He's being held without bond until a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Before moving to Michigan, Sabit's practice was based in Ventura. He performed surgeries at Community Memorial Hospital for 17 months, ending in late 2010. His stint in the area triggered a landslide of lawsuits alleging malpractice. Many but not all of the cases have been settled.

The California Medical Board accused Sabit of performing unnecessary procedures and committing gross negligence. In August, Sabit gave up his California medical license.

The FBI criminal complaint said Sabit is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security. In a civil case filed in federal court in California, Department of Justice officials alleged Sabit submitted Medicare claims tainted by his role as an investor in a company that sold the implants he used.

Sabit denied the allegations.

In the complaint that triggered Monday's arrest, federal officials allege four patients were told by Sabit they needed spinal procedures involving devices implanted in their backs.

"All patients received second opinions from other doctors stating that no such spinal fusion had been performed and there was no evidence of any screw, or any medical device in the spinal column of the patient," FBI Special Agent Peter Hayes said in the complaint.

The complaint said that from 2011 to 2014, Sabit billed government and private insurance agencies for at least $32.8 million in claims and was paid $1.8 million.

"I don't believe it is appropriate to comment on pending cases," said Kriger, Sabit's attorney. "I think the proper forum is the courtroom."

The fraud accusation carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The criminal complaint also alleges Sabit, born in Afghanistan, illegally became a U.S. citizen in 2013. The FBI alleges he was ineligible for naturalization because he committed health care fraud and did not disclose it.

The complaint against Sabit was originally sealed. Hayes said the doctor was considered a flight risk. The complaint was unsealed Monday, the same day Sabit was arrested.

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