|TRENTON - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a central New Jersey chiropractor was sentenced to state prison today for fraudulently obtaining more than $650,000 by illegally using “runners” to recruit motor vehicle accident patients to his chiropractic businesses. The defendant also admitted to growing marijuana plants.
Scott Greenberg, 53, of Franklin Township, Somerset County, a doctor of chiropractic, was sentenced to six years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Julie M. Marino in Somerset County. Judge Marino also ordered Greenberg to pay $655,594 in restitution. The matter has been referred to the New Jersey Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which may impose additional sanctions. The matter has also been referred to the State Department of Banking and Insurance for imposition of additional civil penalties for violation of the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.
The sentence is based on Greenberg’s guilty plea to a criminal accusation charging him with second-degree theft by deception, third-degree conspiracy and third-degree criminal running activity as well as to second-degree manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance, a charge contained in an Aug. 29, 2012 state grand jury indictment obtained by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and unsealed on Dec. 3.
“The prison sentence imposed today should act as a deterrent to those in the medical profession who seek to maximize profits through illegal means,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “Such criminal conduct will not be tolerated in the State of New Jersey.”
“Insurance fraud continues to be a major reason why New Jersey’s insurance rates, especially auto insurance rates, are among the highest in the nation,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi. “The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has made it a priority to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who use running schemes to defraud insurance companies, and in turn, insurance consumers, who often bear the cost of such fraud through increased premiums.”
Greenberg is the owner/operator of Central Jersey Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Centres, which has locations in central and northern New Jersey. In pleading guilty on Jan. 11, Greenberg admitted that between Feb. 21, 2009 and July 27, 2011, he paid money to “runners” to recruit motor vehicle accident patients to his chiropractic businesses. An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Greenberg paid the runners a total of approximately $100,000 for the solicitation and referral of approximately 164 patients. Greenberg further admitted that, during that same time period, he illegally obtained a total of $655,594 in reimbursement from various insurance companies as a result of the illegal “running” scheme.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that New Jersey law includes an “anti-running statute,” which imposes criminal penalties for acting as a runner or using, directing, or employing a runner. The statute defines a runner as a person who attempts to procure a patient or client at the direction of and for a health care professional or attorney in exchange for a pecuniary benefit, when the health care professional or attorney intends to assert a claim against an insured person or an insurance carrier for providing services to the patient or client.
Greenberg was one of seven defendants charged on July 27, 2011 in connection with this scheme. Three of the “runners” in the scheme previously pleaded guilty and two were sentenced in 2012. Jimmy Tovar, 37, of Perth Amboy, was sentenced to three years in state prison and Claribel Torres, 30, of Trenton, was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. Daniel Pacheco, 46, of Perth Amboy, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25, 2013 to conspiracy to commit criminal running activity and is pending sentencing. The matters against the other “runners” are still pending.
In pleading guilty to the drug charge, Greenberg admitted that on July 27, 2011, the day he was arrested for illegally using “runners,” he grew marijuana plants in his home. When investigators executed a search warrant at Greenberg’s residence on the “runner”-related matter, they found 13 marijuana plants growing in his home. Investigators also found marijuana paraphernalia at the same location.
Deputy Attorney General Steven Farman was assigned to the case. Detectives Michael Rasar, Kelly Howard and Natalie Brotherston coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi thanked the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that several important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurance fraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.