Dallas Chiropractors Indicted in Staged Accident Health Care Fraud – Fraud Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments

September 20, 2008

Every honorable profesison has it’s “bad apples.”  I can speak those words as truth – as I too have brought shame to my former profession.  But, as I say often in my speaking presentations – EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE!

According to the US Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, two chiropractors, who operated clinics in Arlington and Haltom City, Texas, were indicted this week on charges related to their participation in a staged accident scheme.  Minh Huynh, also known as Michael Huynh, 37, was charged with three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of mail fraud. Thien Tuan Vo, also known as T.T. Vo, also 37, is charged with one count of health care fraud.

According to the indictment, participants in staged accidents, or “accident clients,” would enter into an agreement with a law firm for that law firm to process and submit claims to insurance companies arising from the staged accidents. The law firm would refer the accident clients to chiropractors, including Huynh and Vo, who would create false and fraudulent treatment and billing records for the accident clients that would falsify and inflate the number of treatments the accident clients received. Huynh and Vo would submit the bogus treatment and billing records to the firm for submission to insurance companies. When a settlement check was received, the firm would issue checks to itself, the chiropractors and the accident clients.

In most frauds the guilty party gets involved slowly.  There are three components to most any fraud: (1) need; (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization.  While I don’t know these men, my guess (from years of experience) is that they started small and found out that others would collude to make the fraud work.  Staged accidents frauds are common and most are discovered.

The indictment further alleges that Huynh paid kickbacks to a legal assistant at a law firm for each client referred to him. It was agreed that the amount of the kickback would be a portion, ranging from 30% – 50%, of the settlement funds paid to the chiropractor from the law firm. Huynh would routinely inflate billings to compensate for the kickbacks he agreed to pay for the referrals. The Settlement Disbursement form the firm provided to its clients, along with their settlement check, concealed and failed to disclose the kickback arrangement and deprived the clients of their full recovery from the settlement.

While an indictment is an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, rarely does a grand jury issue an indictment without a guilty verdict.

Every choice has a consequence.  It’s sad that these two taint the profession, but it is important to not that they (if guilty) are not the norm.  Unfortunately health care fraud is rampant.  Choices and consequences – you do reap what you sow.

For information on business ethics or fraud awareness presentations visit my web site – www.chuckgallagher.com


Antonio Stone – GUILTY! More Time in Prison for Identity Theft. Comments by Fraud Speaker Chuck Gallagher

September 19, 2008

There are some people who learn from there mistakes and others, it seems, can’t learn!  Apparently Antonio Stone is yet too young to get the concept that crime does not pay.

But, let’s spend a moment with a simple fraud lesson.  It takes three things to truly create an effective fraud:  (1) need; (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization.  Now of the three – OPPORTUNITY – is critical.  Without the big “O” it is not practical or possible to pull off the fraud.

Case in point – Antonio Stone in 2002 pled guilty to possession of counterfeit checks and received 50 months in federal prison. He served that time and was on supervised release.  It will soon be obvious that he didn’t get it – the message that every choice has a consequence didn’t sink in.  I guess almost four years in federal prison wasn’t enough for Antonio.

The ringleader in a counterfeit check and identity theft operation, Antonio Desmond Stone, 32, of Dallas, was sentenced today by U.S. Chief District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, to a total of 105 months in federal prison.  Stone, was convicted at trial in June of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, multiple counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Stone was sentenced to 105 months in prison.

OUCH!

Well…how did this seasoned former inmate accomplish his new fraud.   Ah…it was the OPPORTUNITY that made it possible.

As the ringleader of the counterfeit check and identity theft operation, Stone recruited bank insiders to obtain confidential bank customer information and used this information to produce counterfeit checks, produce phony ID’s to pass the checks, and recruited others to pass the counterfeit checks.
Three of Stone’s co-defendants, Williana Sharee Johnson, Natasha Toinette McGruder and Meoshia Christine Guidry, pled guilty to bank fraud, and have been sentenced. Johnson was an employee of First Convenience Bank and provided customer account information through others to Stone.
As you read this you might assume that Stone and other co-defendants made off with massive amounts.  I honestly don’t know, but since Stone was ordered to pay restitution of $26,482 one might assume that he got all that time for very little money.
As a business ethics and fraud speaker (see my web site) I often speak to groups about how simple it is to get caught up in behavior that can ultimately have profound consequences.  Most white collar crimes start with a simple wrong that compounded can send one to prison.  In this case, it appears that Antonio Stone made a clear choice.
And – EVERY CHOICE DOES HAVE A CONSEQUENCE.