Monday, December 5, 2016

Los Angeles Doctor Convicted After Trial of Federal ‘Structuring’ Charges for Making Cash Deposits to Avoid Federal Reporting Requirements

On November 18, 2016, Los Angeles doctor Washington Bryan II was convicted by a jury after a three-day trial of 29 counts of federal “structuring” charges for making a series of cash deposits totaling approximately $478,000 between October 2011 and January 2013. 

The government alleged that Dr. Bryan made deposits of less than $10,000 into four separate accounts for the purpose of preventing banks from reporting the deposits to the federal government, which is required for every cash transaction of more than $10,000. 

For each of the 29 counts, the Prosecution provided evidence that Dr. Bryan made cash deposits into multiple bank accounts on the same day that added up to more than $10,000. The government contended that going to two or three banks in the same day, sometimes just minutes apart, to conduct a transaction that could have been completed at one bank has no benign explanation.  In order to prove criminal intent and knowledge of the structuring laws, the government presented evidence to the jury that Dr. Bryan received a letter in 2007 from Wachovia Bank informing him of the reporting requirement and alerting him that his pattern of currency deposits at the time appeared to be violating federal law. 

Federal prosecutors presented evidence and argued that Dr. Bryan structured the cash deposits for the purpose of concealing income he received from thousands of prescriptions that he issued for narcotic painkillers and HIV medications out of his Brentwood office. If one of the cash deposits had been $10,000 or more, the bank would have filed a currency transaction report (CTR) with IRS. The government was also able to introduce evidence at trial that Dr. Bryan was disciplined by the Medical Board of California for excessively prescribing narcotic medications, including OxyContin, and place on three years of probation. The prosecution contended that cash structuring began after Bryan was placed on probation and while he continued to routinely prescribe high dosages of painkillers to patients – most of whom paid $500 in cash each time they visited Bryan’s Brentwood office and obtained prescriptions, sometimes without ever seeing the doctor.

Dr. Bryan is to be sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner on February 27, 2017.  The statutory maximum sentence is 145 years in federal prison, however, the sentencing laws are complex and it is unlikely the sentence will be anywhere near the maximum. 

Attorney Commentary: This case shows that even if the cash was deposited in all the banks and reported to the IRS as income, a violation of the federal structuring laws may still result in a criminal case. This case appears to have been used as a means to prosecute the doctor instead of pursuing charges of violating prescribing laws. The case may have gone to trial because the plea offer made by the Prosecution was considered to be unduly harsh. In some cases, it is better to go to trial and let the evidence go before the jury and court so that the sentencing will more properly reflect the facts and evidence. Every case is different and this will result in a harsh result for the physician as well.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates, Attorneys at Law
Phone: 213-233-2260


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