A chiropractor has been sentenced to five months in prison after admitting to submitting a bogus personal injury claim to an insurance carrier.
Lawrence S. Herman, 47, pleaded guilty in December to a federal information charging him with false statements in health care matters.
Herman, of Frederick, Md., owned and operated Herman Chiropractic in Waynesboro, prosecutors said.
In May 2012, he submitted to the U.S. Automobile Association insurance group a claim for injuries he purportedly suffered in a car accident that past August.
Herman supported his claim with records indicating that, from the time of the crash through January 2012, he'd received chiropractic treatment for lower back and neck injuries.
When USAA did not immediately honor his claim, Herman hired a lawyer and demanded the company pay out $60,000 - $17,527 for the reimbursement of treatment expenses and the remainder to compensate him for pain and suffering.
Prosecutors called the car crash at the center of the case a "minor, fender-bender type accident" and noted that, when Herman was supposedly receiving medical treatment for his injuries, he participated in several 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races.
During his guilty plea hearing, Herman admitted that, though the car accident did occur, his injuries and chiropractic treatment records were fabricated.
Herman directed an employee of his practice to create the records and then submitted them to USAA on phony business letterhead, according to authorities.
The case was investigated by the FBI's Harrisburg office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel, who oversees health care fraud matters for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
In a sentencing memorandum, Herman's defense attorney Michael McCarrie, of Artz Health Law, argued for a non-custodial sentence, calling the incident "an isolated mistake in a law-abiding life."
The attorney stressed that the fraud was a "one-shot" crime "of fortuitous opportunity," noting it came on the heels of "traumatic divorce proceedings" and negotiations surrounding Herman and his ex-wife's financial obligations and the living arrangements of their children.
"Personal stresses, provided by work pressures and economic circumstances resulting from the divorce, weakened Mr. Herman's judgment and contributed to precipitating the infraction," McCarrie wrote in the memorandum.
He said the case already caused Herman to suffer embarrassment, business losses and "a loss of standing in his small community."
"Mr. Herman has already inflicted upon himself emotional punishment, even without sentencing," McCarrie wrote. "His self-inflicted ruination includes the consequences of the painful process of accepting and confessing to responsibility."
Prosecutors, in a corresponding sentencing memorandum, contended that Herman attempted to shift blame for the crime onto the attorneys who drafted the settlement demand, as well as the chiropractic employee who allegedly helped falsify the treatment records.
"Herman's repeated attempts to shift responsibility to others is troubling and should be rejected as a basis for any downward [sentencing] variance," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel.
Following the prison sentence, Herman must serve five months of home confinement, U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo ruled. He was also ordered to pay a $600 fine and a $100 special assessment.
The Pennsylvania state chiropractic board has issued an order to show cause seeking to revoke, suspend or limit Herman's license, court records indicate.
Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.
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