Police probe five N.O., Jeff armed robberies

Between Saturday morning and early Sunday, the New Orleans Police Department investigated at least four armed robberies. One saw a FedEx driver robbed at gunpoint, and two involved carjackings.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a fifth armed robbery.

None of the robberies resulted in serious injuries, and no arrests were reported in any of the incidents.

The 23-year-old FedEx delivery man was robbed near St. Claude Avenue and Piety Street about 8:45 a.m. Saturday, according to police. A man with a gun approached him from behind and ordered the driver to the rear of his truck, where the robber searched through the packages that were there.

The robber didn’t find anything of value in the packages, so he stole the driver’s wallet, police said.

In other robberies:

A 42-year-old woman was robbed of her car at gunpoint while she was pumping gas in the 6500 block of the I-10 Service Road about 11 p.m. Saturday. A man approached her and demanded her keys before driving off in her car, which police said was later recovered.

  • Two women, ages 35 and 33, were robbed at gunpoint of their purses and cellphones about 11:20 p.m. near Louisa and Burgundy streets. Police said two men had demanded their property.
  • Five days before his 25th birthday, a man lost his cellphone, wallet and vehicle to two men armed with guns near Poland Avenue and North Rampart Street about 2 a.m. Sunday. Police said the two robbers approached the victim while he was parking the vehicle and demanded his property.
  • The JPSO said a woman was robbed in the 100 block of Cicero Street. No other information was available.

New Orleans police also responded to a burglary at an apartment in the 14700 block of Chef Menteur Highway about 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Officers said a 27-year-old woman got into an argument with her boyfriend, “who kicked in the front door and assaulted the victim.”

Two men stabbed, one with a pitchfork

Two men were stabbed in separate incidents Saturday morning in New Orleans. In one case, a man was arrested after sticking another with a pitchfork, police said.

Shortly before 11 a.m., a 24-year-old man was fighting with his 15-year-old sister in the 200 block of Millaudon Street when she grabbed a knife and cut him, police said. Police didn’t say whether they arrested the girl or how badly the victim was stabbed.

About 11:45 a.m., 56-year-old Kevin Wright stuck a 59-year-old man with a pitchfork during a fight, police said. Police booked Wright on a count of aggravated battery, and the victim received treatment from paramedics.

24-year-old man shot Saturday in N.O.

A 24-year-old man was shot about 5 p.m. Saturday near Gen. Taylor Street and South Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans police said.

The victim was walking on Gen. Taylor when a red sedan pulled up, police said. Two men got out of the car and fired several shots at the victim before fleeing, police said.

The victim suffered multiple wounds and was taken to a hospital.

4 found guilty in Medicare fraud trial

A federal jury in New Orleans last week convicted a pair of doctors and two other medical service clinic employees of helping to carry out a $50 million Medicare fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office said.

Dr. Barbara Smith, 66, of Metairie; Dr. Roy Berkowitz, 69, of Slidell; Beverly Breaux, 67, of New Orleans; and Joe Ann Murthil, 57, also of New Orleans, were found guilty Wednesday after a trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance.

Through multiple companies and for more than 10 years, Smith and Berkowitz falsely claimed that thousands of Medicare recipients were confined to their homes and required home nursing or therapy, prosecutors said.

Breaux, a registered nurse, also falsely certified the patients as homebound and claimed to have treated folks she’d never seen, prosecutors said. They said Murthil, an office manager and biller at a home health company, helped pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters.

Murthil also filed false Medicare claims saying that patients were homebound when some of them had jobs, had not been treated or did not want services, prosecutors said.

Companies tied up in the scheme submitted more than $56 million in Medicare claims from 2007 through 2014, “the vast majority of which were fraudulent,” prosecutors said. Medicare paid out almost $51 million on those claims.

Vance set sentencing for Smith, Berkowitz, Breaux and Murthil for Aug. 26.

Nine other defendants in the case had previously pleaded guilty.

New Orleans hotel fire displaces guests

An electrical fire in a packed hotel Saturday evening forced guests to evacuate the building and find an alternate place to spend the night, according to a New Orleans Fire Department news release. No injuries were reported.

With 124 of its 134 rooms occupied, the seven-story La Belle Maison Hotel at 209 Magazine St. called the Fire Department to report a one-alarm blaze just before 8 p.m.

Firefighters found an electrical fire in the room housing the hotel’s main electrical panel. Power to the building was shut down as firefighters worked to contain and suppress the fire, which 27 firefighters brought under control by 9:26 p.m.

Entergy officials said the hotel guests would have to find another place to sleep, at least for Saturday night. The American Red Cross helped hotel managers find new rooms for the displaced guests, the Fire Department said.