NEW YORK – Audrey Strauss, New York District Attorney, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) announced on August 25 the unsealing of an indictment involving George Constantine , Marc Elefant, Andrew Dowd, and Sady Ribeiro of Conspiracy on Postal and Wire Transfer Fraud, Postal Fraud and Wire Transfer Fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent insurance reimbursements and other compensation for fraudulent travel -and fall accidents.
A brawl in which corrupt lawyers and doctors generated over $ 20 million in litigation by manipulating hundreds of homeless and other desperate people into false pretenses has been stopped with charges, authorities said Wednesday, The Associated reports Press.
Charges against two attorneys and two doctors in Manhattan Federal Court have been exposed by authorities detailing a scam in which people allegedly consented to sometimes undergo unnecessary surgery to add value to lawsuits to compensate for fake accidents.
US Attorney Audrey Strauss said the defendants “exploited the most vulnerable members of society” to commit a fraud that ran from January 2013 to April 2018.
“The defendants have abused their professional licenses and trusts to steal millions of dollars from New York companies and their insurance companies through a massive trip-and-case fraud system,” she said in a press release.
Michael J. Driscoll, a New York FBI officer, called the plan “more than reprehensible.”
He said the case shows “the extent to which some are willing to go in the name of money”.
Marc Elefant, 49, a lawyer, and two doctors – Andrew Dowd, 45, and Sady Ribeiro, 51 – were arrested Wednesday pending court hearings. Another lawyer, George Constantine, 58, is due to surrender on Thursday, authorities said.
Aaron Mysliwiec, a Dowd attorney, declined to comment.
Michael Bachner, Elefant’s attorney, said his client denies the charges contained in the indictment and is looking forward to his day in court.
He added, “We are confident that the evidence shows that Mr. Elefant acted in good faith and relied on the information provided.”
Marc Gann, an attorney representing Constantine, said his client “firmly denies the allegations and looks forward to tackling these allegations in court.”
He called Constantine a “longtime member of the bar association with what I consider to be an outstanding achievement as a lawyer”.
A Ribeiro lawyer did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment.
An indictment said the settlement amounts exceeded $ 20 million while Constantine took in more than $ 5 million in legal fees.
Down, an orthopedic surgeon, made $ 9,500 per surgery performing hundreds of knee and shoulder surgeries on schematic patients. Ribeiro, according to the indictment, was a pain management doctor and surgeon who performed back surgeries and other procedures and treated nearly 200 patients.
The indictment states that participants in the program recruited more than 400 people to either claim they fell where no accident occurred or to purposely fall in locations in New York City where they could claim there were cracks in concrete sidewalks, potholes or unsecured cellar doors.
Attorneys then filed lawsuits claiming the falls were due to negligence by accident site owners, the indictment said.
Authorities said the lawsuits attempted to defraud victims of more than $ 31 million.
As part of the scam, people who alleged or staged spurious accidents were pressured to continue receiving chiropractic treatment and were eventually told that they would need to undergo surgery to add value to their lawsuits, it said Indictment.
Medical procedures included spinal fusion, knee and shoulder surgeries, and epidural injections, and “at least one patient who had surgery under the fraud plan was told after waking from general anesthesia that she nearly died during the operation,” it says it in the indictment.
Patients were generally told to undergo two surgeries and were encouraged to do so through loans of between $ 1,000 and $ 1,500 per operation.
The people who were recruited to take falls and become plaintiffs in court cases were “extremely poor,” inadequately dressed, and often asked for food when they came to meet their attorneys, court records say.
Some of them were drug users and it was common for the scammers to recruit them to homeless shelters in New York City, the prosecution said.
Source: The Associated Press, US Attorneys – Southern District of New York