Boca Raton Chiropractor Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in Connection with Staged Accident Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 01, 2013|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge-Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer, announced that defendant Jennifer Adams, 39, of Boca Raton, a chiropractic doctor, was sentenced yesterday to 54 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,920,424.83. Adams previously pled guilty to a one-count information charging her with conspiring with others to commit mail fraud for her role in a staged accident fraud scheme.
According to court documents, to execute the fraud scheme, the recruiters sought out drivers and their friends/family members to participate in staged accidents. Under Florida’s “No Fault” insurance law, insurers are required to provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage of $10,000 per person. The recruiters referred to the individuals whom they recruited as the “Perro” and the “Perra.” The “Perro” was the person who “caused” the staged accident. The “Perra” was the person who was the “victim” of the staged accident and whose car was struck by the “Perro’s” car. Thus, if the recruiter found a Perro with a wife and two children and a Perra with two friends, for a total of seven participants, the maximum PIP benefit was $70,000.
Once the recruiters found the participants, they coached the participants on how to perform the staged accident, what to say to the police officer who responded to the scene, and on how to claim that they had been injured. Thereafter, the accident was staged. After impact, a police officer was called, and a police report was filed. After the staged accident, the Perro and Perra filed false claims with their insurance companies, alleging that they and their family members were injured.
Court documents state that the accident participants were then directed by the recruiters to chiropractic clinics that were controlled by co-defendants. The staged accident participants completed paperwork falsely asserting that they suffered injuries during the staged accident. The co-conspirators advised the participants on how to fill out the paperwork and what to say if an insurance investigator interviewed them about their injuries or treatment. The staged accident participants were instructed to sign numerous blank treatment forms that would later be submitted indicating that they had visited the clinic on a number of separate occasions for treatment, although they may have visited the clinic only once or twice. During their visits, some staged accident participants received no treatment at all or may have received only a short exam or treatment from the chiropractor or LMT but the paperwork completed by the LMTs and chiropractors, including Dr. Adams, indicated that a full and lengthy exam and treatment was given.
According to court documents, Adams agreed to place her name on the corporate paperwork for two clinics, thus utilizing her status as a licensed chiropractic physician, to allow the clinics to bill insurance companies directly for PIP claims without obtaining additional licensure from the state of Florida. Those clinics were Ovy Rehabilitation Medical Center Inc. (OVY) in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Chiropractic Office of South Florida LLC (COSF) in Palm Springs, Florida. Although Adams was named as the owner of the clinic on the corporate paperwork, the co-conspirators maintained control of the bank account and running the operations of the clinics.
Court documents state that Adams initially believed the clinics to be operating legitimately. Sometime thereafter, Adams became aware that her license and status as a chiropractor was being used to fraudulently submit claims by U.S. mail to insurance companies. Adams realized these patients did not require the medical treatment they sought. Adams continued to work at both clinics signing prescriptions for plans of treatment that she knew were not medically necessary and that she knew were being submitted for reimbursement to numerous insurance companies. According to court documents, from the time that Adams was told about the fraud until the clinics were closed by law enforcement, the clinics submitted fraudulent claims that resulted in more than 10 insurance companies making total payments of $1,920,424.83. Defendant Adams received a salary for her work as a chiropractic physician paid from the COSF and OVY checking accounts. The bulk of the proceeds of the fraud were taken by co-conspirators.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud and issued a special thanks to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its assistance in this investigation. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the members of the Greater Palm Beach Health Care Fraud Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña.