August 16, 2007

"Dietrich" tracked by medical bills

(CBS) LOS ANGELES A 26-year-old man was in custody Friday after being on the run for more than a year following a high-speed crash in Malibu that left a rare $1 million Ferrari Enzo in pieces.

The driver of the Ferrari, Swedish national Stefan Eriksson, had previously claimed that a mysterious German man named "Dietrich" had been driving when the collision with the utility pole occurred. Eriksson failed two alcohol breath tests at the scene of the crash, and was later charged with embezzlement related to leased car exports and his video game firm Gizmondo.

Irish native Kearney, who was a passenger in the Ferrari Enzo during the crash, fled the country after the crash but was smuggled back into the U.S. a year later from Tijuana, Mexico.

Authorities tracked him down this week, thanks to medical bills generated after his return to California and sent to a Marina del Rey address, the source said.

Kearney was charged with perjury and obstructing, both misdemeanor crimes. Why would police track this man via medical bills for two misdemeanors? In order to force him to testify against Eriksson in a media-frenzy drunk driving case, undoubtedly.

Medical records are an open book to anyone with a subpoena. All too often medical professionals allow access to records after only an informal request from a detective or investigator. More troubling is the ease with which private investigators and other outside parties seem to get medical records via bribery, pretexting, or court-ordered legal discovery.

If Kearney hadn't had his medical bills sent to his address of record -- the address he gave to police investigators at the crash site -- he might not be under indictment for two misdemeanors today.

Remember, also, that lying to police is usually a misdemeanor and lying to federal agents is a felony. Just ask Martha Stewart.

Read the Findlaw article "How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents" for more information on lies within federal jurisdiction and how to decline a federal interview by invoking counsel.

No comments: