Former Law Office Manager Sentenced in $3 Million Automobile Insurance Fraud Conspiracy
HOUSTON—The former office manager of Sanjoh & Associates has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for engaging in a conspiracy to defraud various automobile insurance companies of more than $3 million via the U.S. Postal Service, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Earlie Dickerson, 41, was the office manager for the Bryan office of Houston-based Sanjoh & Associates. He was convicted by a Houston federal jury in October 2013 after only four hours of deliberation.
Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ordered Dickerson to serve a sentence of 168 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Marion Young, 44, had previously pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy and was sentenced today to a 60-month-term of imprisonment. Both were further ordered to pay restitution to the auto insurance companies of approximately $1.2 million.
Edward Graham, 38, was also convicted at trial with Dickerson and will be sentenced Oct. 14, 2014. Two others—Chase Lindsey, 46, and Brittany Jessie, 24, pleaded guilty in advance of trial and were sentenced previously to 24 and 30 months in federal prison, respectively.
All of the defendants are residents of Bryan.
During Dickerson and Graham’s trial, evidence revealed that the Bryan office of Sanjoh & Associates employed no attorneys. However, many clients thought Dickerson was the attorney with one witness even calling him Earlie Sanjoh. From February 2007 through December 2009, Dickerson used his position at Sanjoh & Associates to recruit individuals involved in auto accidents to be represented by the Sanjoh law firm.
Dickerson sent individuals he recruited to specific clinics where Lindsey was the only chiropractor. According to trial testimony, Lindsey entered into an agreement with Dickerson to provide medical evaluations of, and recommend treatment for, patients sent to him by Dickerson in exchange for $2,000 in cash per month. Young, who was in charge of one of the clinics and who also recruited individuals to be represented by the firm, received checks from Sanjoh & Associates totaling approximately $77,000, as well as approximately $35,000 in cash from Dickerson.
The patients represented by the firm were allegedly injured in auto accidents. Lindsey routinely recommended medically unnecessary therapeutic treatments and, in some instances, either never evaluated the patient or did so after the patient had already begun receiving treatments. The treatments, if done, were done by unlicensed, untrained and unqualified individuals. Lindsey always prescribed the same six treatments but the patients usually received only two—ice/heat packs and electric stimulation. Lindsey prescribed the treatments be done 3-4 times per week for 5-6 weeks. However, the patients usually went once a week for 3-4 weeks. Lindsey provided no follow-up treatments.
Graham and Jessie created false and fraudulent chiropractic bills for treatments which were never performed. Dickerson used the fraudulent bills as support for settlement demand letters sent to auto insurance companies which caused the insurance companies to issue settlement checks. The scheme resulted in the submission of more than $3 million in false billing claims on which the companies paid out at least $1.2 million during 2007-2009.
Lindsey started working for Graham at Texas Avenue Chiropractic Clinic in February 2007 and continued until it closed on or about Sept. 1, 2007. Upon its closing due to the growing suspicions of the insurance companies, Dickerson and Graham continued the criminal enterprise by opening a new clinic under the name H & E Chiropractic with Lindsey as the only chiropractor. After H&E Chiropractic shut down in March 2008, Dickerson continued the on-going criminal scheme using another new clinic, Private Chiropractic Care, which he opened with Jessie as the primary owner and Lindsey as the only chiropractor. After it shut down in September 2009, Dickerson and Lindsey agreed to continue the fraud scheme by sending the Sanjoh clients to Lindsey Chiropractic Care until search warrants were executed in November 2009.
Dickerson was taken into custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, while Young was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender in the near future.
The criminal charges are the result of a joint investigation by agents of the FBI and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Al Balboni and Adrienne Frazior prosecuted the case.