A chiropractor from Washington Township was arrested Wednesday in connection with an alleged scheme to recruit patients to file insurance claims, Attorney General Paula T. Dow announced in a statement.
Fernando Barrese, 39, who currently holds an active chiropractic license, was arrested Wednesday, according to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi.
He was one of 11 charged Wednesday with various offenses for their alleged roles in two separate schemes which used “runners” to recruit patients to chiropractors’ practices.
According to complaints, Barrese and others used "runners" to identify, approach and recruit individuals who had recently been involved in motor vehicle crashes. The chiropractors allegedly paid the runners for their services and then were able to file claims with insurance agencies for the care.
Barrese was charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity (money laundering), third-degree filing false and fraudulent tax returns, third-degree commercial bribery and third degree use of runners.
New Jersey has an anti-running statute, which calls for a presumptive sentence of three to five years in state prison. The statute prohibits individuals from recruiting patients for the purpose of filing insurance claims.
"These alleged schemes involved chiropractors recruiting runners and runners recruiting patients, all in the name of greed," said Attorney General Dow. "Such conduct corrupts the insurance system because it gives powerful financial incentives that can influence a doctor's treatment decisions to maximize insurance billings."
Barrese and Christopher Montana, of Chester, own Chiropractic Centre of Elizabeth, Chiropractic Centre of Newark and Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City. Montana was also arrested and faces the same charges as Barrese.
Prosecutors allege that Barrese, Montana and the office manager of Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City, Oleg Gorodetsky, conspired to use runners. They said runners recruited more than 50 patients for the practice.
Gorodetsky, 41, of Staten Island, was charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity (money laundering), third-degree commercial bribery and third degree use of runners.
"Insurance fraud is a major reason why New Jersey's insurance rates, especially auto insurance rates, are among the highest in the nation," said Prosecutor Chillemi. "The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor will 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."
The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor also arrested individuals involved in a running scheme for Central Jersey Chiropractic & Rehabilitation Centres in New Brunswick.
The investigation into the alleged schemes is ongoing.