Fraud Ring Organizers and
Three Chiropractors Get Prison Sentences
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Mike Williams Tosca Martinez, Nhon Nguyen, and three female chiropractors have received prison sentences related to improper billing of insurance companies. Court documents indicate that at various times between 2002 and 2006, the defendants operated seven clinics in Southern Florida: More Pain Center, United Chiropractic Center of Florida, Broward Care Medical Center, Broward Care Chiropractic Center, North Miami Beach Health Center, Spine Relief Center, and Miramar Spine Relief Center. Martinez actually owned the clinics, but to qualify to run them without a special license, he pretended on registration applications that each was owned by a chiropractor .
To execute the scheme, Martinez, Nguyen, and other unindicted coconspirators solicited real victims of automobile accidents plus individuals who participated in "staged" accidents to visit the chiropractic clinics for treatment. Fifteen insurance companies were billed for nonexistent and inflated personal injuries and made at least $3,428,851 in payments [2-4].
The participants were not equally involved:
- Martinez, who organized the ring, pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and fraudulent use of another person's social security number. He was sentenced 14 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
- Nguyen pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The chiropractors each pled guilty to obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses and making false statements to agents.
- Jacqueline Gonzalez, D.C. was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
- The second chiropractor received a 1-year sentence.
- The third chiropractor worked at two of the clinics for about eleven months (May 2002 to April 2003) and did not own either one. In a telephone conversation, she told me that she was not involved in any patient solicitation and that when she learned about the "staged" accidents, she quit immediately. She received a 6-month sentence.
The court also ordered forfeiture of the $3.4 million.
The three chiropractors were also disciplined by Florida's chiropractic licensing board:
- Gonzalez was ordered to pay a $10,000 administrative fine plus $2,612 for costs, provide 1,000 hours of community service, and take an ethics course. Her license was suspended for a minimum of 5 years, after which, if her license is restored, she must serve four years of probation, during which her practice must be monitored . She now practices in Toronto, Canada.
- The second chiropractor was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine plus $8,571.64 for costs. Her license was indefinitely suspended "until she is able to demonstrate to the Board that she is capable of safely engaging in the practice of chiropractic medicine."  In a recent telephone conversation, she told me that she became disabled and gave up her chiropractic license.
- The third chiropractor was permitted to voluntarily and permanently surrender her license without further penalty .
- Organizer of health care fraud and insurance ring sentenced to prison. USDOJ news release, July 24, 2009.
- Superceding indictment. U.S.A. vs. Mike Williams Tosca Martinez, Nhon Nguyen, and Jacqueline Gonzalez. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case No. 0:08-CR-60168, Oct 7, 2008.
- Criminal information. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case No. 0:09-CR-60114, April 23, 2009.
- Criminal information. U.S.A. vs. ... District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case No. 0:09-CR-60113, April 23, 2009.
- Final order. State of Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine, Case No. 2008-15636, filed May 19, 2010.
- Final order. State of Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine, Case No. 2006-18801, filed Feb 15, 2010.
- Final order. State of Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine, Case No. 2009-10254, filed May 19, 2010.
This article was revised on February 17, 2016.