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POSTED February 13, 2012 8:02 p.m.

LA BUSINESSMAN GETS 8 YEARS FOR MEDICARE FRAUD: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The co-owner of two Los Angeles-area health care companies has been sentenced to eight years in prison for scheming to defraud Medicare out of millions.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that 49-year-old Evans Oniha was also sentenced Monday to three years of supervised release after prison and $7 million in restitution.

A jury in July convicted Oniha of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud and one count of false statements relating to health care.

Prosecutors said that for nine years Oniha wrongly obtained Medicare beneficiary information and used it to submit false claims for equipment and home health services.

His co-owner and co-defendant, Camillus Ehigie, pleaded guilty last year to similar charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

DOZEN TO HOSPITAL AFTER HOTEL CHEMICAL SPILL: MONTEREY  (AP) — A hazardous materials spill at a Monterey  hotel sent more than a dozen workers to the hospital and led to the evacuation of about 200 guests.

City spokeswoman Anne McGrath says the spill occurred around 9 a.m. Monday in the laundry room of the Portola Hotel in downtown Monterey.

The spill apparently occurred when chlorine mixed with other chemicals in the laundry room. City officials are still investigating.

McGrath says more than two dozen people complained about respiratory problems.

The Monterey Herald reports that 16 workers and one guest went to a hospital.

GINGRICH SAYS HE'S IN THE RACE TO STAY: SOUTH EL MONTE  (AP) — Republican Newt Gingrich says he's in the presidential contest for the long haul, dismissing calls from rival Rick Santorum and others to drop out.

Gingrich spoke to reporters Monday after addressing a Hispanic leadership event near Los Angeles. The former House speaker is spending most of the week in California attending fundraisers.

Gingrich says he's been counted out in the presidential campaign several times before but that his candidacy has rallied back each time.

Gingrich won the South Carolina primary last month but hasn't won a contest since. He placed fourth in Maine's caucuses Saturday and third in a straw poll sponsored by the Conservative Political Action Committee.

Gingrich says he does best when he offers bold ideas and doesn't focus on attacking his rivals.

HEFNER SON ARRESTED IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE: PASADENA . (AP) — Authorities say Hugh Hefner's 21-year-old son has been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence in Pasadena.

Los Angeles County jail records show Marston Hefner was released Monday after posting $20,000 bail.

Police Lt. Rick Aversano told the Los Angeles Times that police were called Sunday to the Pasadena home and arrested Hefner after determining she had minor injuries consistent with an assault.

Marston Hefner is one of two adult sons of the Playboy founder and his former wife, ex-Playmate Kimberly Conrad Hefner.

It was not clear whether he has hired an attorney. He could not be reached for comment, and the arrest was not addressed on the Twitter accounts of Hugh, Marston or brother Cooper Hefner.

28 ARRESTED IN SOUTHERN CALIF. COCKFIGHTING BUST: JURUPA VALLEY  (AP) — Twenty-eight people suspected to staging illegal cockfights have been arrested in rural Riverside County.

The Sheriff's Department says animal control and code enforcement officials joined deputies in the Sunday morning raid at a Jurupa Valley home.

The 47-year-old homeowner, Martin Ruezga, and his 25-year-old son Miguel Angel Ruezga have been booked for investigation of animal cruelty and illegal gambling. The others were arrested for being cockfight spectators.

Martin Ruezga has been ordered to demolish and remove all non-permitted structures on his property.

WOMAN HELPING ANIMAL IN ROAD RUN OVER AND KILLED: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman who got out of her car to help a distressed animal on a Los Angeles roadway has been struck down by two vehicles and killed, including one that dragged her body more than 600 feet.

Los Angeles police Officer Cleon Joseph says 66-year-old Zina Feeley parked her Lincoln Town along a dark stretch of Forest Lawn Drive late Saturday and was walking toward the animal when she was hit by a car traveling east.

City News Service says the woman was thrown into the westbound lane and she was struck by a second vehicle.

The woman's body was lodged in the undercarriage and dragged more than 600 feet before coming loose.

The driver of that vehicle didn't stop.

GRAMMY AWARDS HIT HIGH NOTE WITH BIG AUDIENCE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sunday's Grammy Awards telecast made sweet music in the ratings, delivering for CBS its largest audience since 1984 and beating last year's viewership by 50 percent.

More than 39.9 million viewers flocked to the broadcast, making it the second most-watched Grammys in history, according to preliminary Nielsen Co. figures released Monday. That exceeds last year's Oscars broadcast, which was seen by 37.6 million viewers.

Helping stoke interest in this year's Grammys broadcast was recording sensation Adele, who emerged as the night's big winner with six trophies. Her album, "21," was by far the year's best seller and one of its most critically acclaimed.

But the broadcast was an attention-getter not only for the awards dispensed but also for its role as a memorial to Whitney Houston, a six-time past winner. The superstar singer died unexpectedly Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.

FOO FIGHTERS, CORNELL TO PLAY OBAMA FUNDRAISERS: LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama's upcoming West Coast fundraising trip will feature a musical lineup worthy of Grammy gold.

Obama campaign officials say the Foo Fighters, fresh off winning five Grammys on Sunday, will perform at a Los Angeles fundraiser on Wednesday. In San Francisco on Thursday, the president's supporters will hear a performance by the former frontman for Soundgarden, Chris Cornell.

And on Friday, Seattle band the Head and the Heart will perform at a fundraiser in Bellevue, Wash.

Obama is holding eight fundraisers during a three-day trip to Wisconsin, California and Washington state to benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account for the president's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The president raised more than $220 million in 2011 in preparation for the general election race.

FEDS RECOVER $4.1B IN HEALTH CARE FRAUD IN 2011: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal authorities say they recovered $4.1 billion in health care fraud judgments last year, a record high which officials on Monday credited to new tools for cracking down on deceitful Medicare claims.

The recovered funds are up roughly 50 percent from 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were expected to make the announcement at a news conference Tuesday.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press that agencies are doing a better job of screening providers before they get in the system and have beefed up enrollment requirements. Now investigators are conducting site visits to make sure moderate risk providers have a legitimate office. Higher risk providers are also subject to fingerprint and criminal background checks.

 

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