Former Daytona Beach Clinic Owner Sentenced to More Than 15 Years in Federal Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 29, 2012|
ORLANDO—Senior United States District Judge G. Kendall Sharp sentenced Joseph Wagner (62, Daytona Beach) yesterday to 15 years and eight months in federal prison for health care fraud, conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to the charges on August 28, 2012. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Wagner to make restitution to the victims of his offenses in the total amount of $2,061,620.86, including more than $1.8 million in restitution to the United States Department of Health and Human Services for losses caused to the Medicare program.
According to court documents, Wagner was a licensed chiropractor and owner of Wagner Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic (WCAC) located in Volusia County. He operated WCAC as a facility that purported to provide chiropractic and other medical services to customers. On occasion, Wagner did provide chiropractic services to customers of WCAC but also sent inflated bills to public and private health care beneficiary programs, including Medicare. Wagner charged those programs using the higher billing rates for services rendered by medical doctors, instead of those appropriate for chiropractors. In addition, Wagner systematically submitted claims for reimbursement for services not rendered.
As part of the fraud scheme, Wagner submitted fraudulent billings in the names of medical doctors. By doing so, the health care beneficiary programs would make payments directly to those medical doctors. The doctors accepted those payments and would often split the fraudulently obtained insurance payments with Wagner. In the case of at least one medical doctor participating in the fraudulent scheme, Wagner received payments from the health care beneficiary programs by check and then deposited those checks into the medical doctor’s bank account.
Wagner also provided customers of WCAC with prescriptions for controlled substances, often in return for cash payments. Since he could not prescribe controlled substances, Wagner provided the prescriptions to customers of WCAC using the names of medical doctors who were aware that Wagner was using their names illegally. Many of the patients who obtained prescriptions for controlled substances through Wagner used their Medicaid coverage at pharmacies to pay for those controlled substances.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Florida Department of Financial Services; the Florida Department of Health; and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.