Orange County District Attorney Charges Seven in
Second Sweep of Chiropractors, Attorneys, and Law Office
Employees for Insurance Overbilling Schemes
and Illegal Practice of Law

A new defendant has also been charged in the original Operation K-Fraud

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release, May 7, 2009

SANTA ANA – Seven new defendants, including chiropractors, attorneys, and law office employees have been charged in an undercover sting operation targeting insurance overbilling schemes, the illegal practice of law, and the misuse of attorney-client trust accounts. The Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Gatekeepers Insurance Fraud Team (GIFT) coordinated and conducted undercover operations to identify provider professionals suspected of defrauding insurance companies.

Based on information provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the OCDA conducted walk-in investigations of chiropractic clinics and law offices where undercover investigators posed as “patients” claiming to be suffering from soft tissue damage from car accidents. As a result, the OCDA has charged seven defendants in three criminal cases including three chiropractors, two attorneys, and two law office administrative staff members with various charges including insurance fraud, the unauthorized practice of law, and the unlawful receipt of funds.

This is the second Orange County sweep of its kind in 2009. On Feb. 4, 2009, the OCDA announced the arrest of and charges against 12 defendants, including chiropractors, an attorney, and office employees in Operation K-Fraud (Knockout Fraudulent Attorneys and Unscrupulous Doctors), an undercover sting operation targeting illegal patient referral and insurance overbilling schemes. A new 13th defendant was also arrested and charged today for her participation in this case. The statuses of those cases are below.

For their cooperation and assistance, the OCDA would like to thank the National Insurance Crime Bureau, California State Bureau of Automotive Repair, Cypress Police Department, Garden Grove Police Department, Tustin Police Department, Automobile Club of Southern California, Infinity Insurance, Mercury Insurance, Progressive Insurance, and Workmen’s Auto Insurance Company.Deputy District Attorney Demetra Lewis of the Insurance Fraud Unit is prosecuting these cases.

FIRST WALK-IN CASE AND SUBSEQUENT RELATED CASE

Paul Truong Nguyen, Chiropractor
Case # 09CF1125
Age: 44
Residence: Huntington Beach
Business Name: Health First Chiropractic
Business Address: 10840 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley
Felony Charges: two counts of insurance fraud
Maximum Exposure: 6 years prison
Bail: $50,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: To be assigned (TBA), Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Nga Thi Thy Han, Chiropractor
Case # 09CF1125
Age: 37
Residence: Westminster
Business Name: Michael Dao Medical Center
Business Address: 14362 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove
Felony Charges: two counts of insurance fraud
Maximum Exposure: 6 years in prison
Bail: $50,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Tung The Pham, Attorney
Case # 09CM04446
Age: 32
Residence: Westminster
Business Name: Law Offices of Tung The Pham
Business Address: 15355 Brookhurst St., Ste. 210, Westminster
Misdemeanor Charges: two counts of the unlawful receipt of funds
Maximum Exposure: 1 year in jail
Bail: $10,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Thu Thi Hua, paralegal
Case # 09CM04446
Age: 53
Residence: Santa Ana
Business Name: Law Offices of Tung The Pham
Business Address: 15355 Brookhurst St., Ste. 210, Westminster
Misdemeanor Charges: two counts of the unauthorized practice of law
Maximum Exposure: 1 year in jail
Bail: $10,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

In August 2007, two OCDA undercover investigators posing as potential clients involved in a car accident went to the Law Offices of Tung The Pham. Hua is accused of illegally practicing law without a license and referring the two investigators to Nguyen as patients. Pham is accused of allowing Hua to illegally practice law without a license or supervision on behalf of her law office. He is accused of receiving payment for the undercover investigators’ case without ever meeting them and after allowing Hua to illegally do the work on their claim.

Between August and November 2007, Nguyen is accused of “treating” the two OCDA undercover investigators nine and 12 times, respectively. On Nov. 21, 2007, Nguyen is accused of overbilling the insurance company by claiming 29 visits for each undercover investigator, amounting to $1,936 and $2,022 in fraud.

Hua is accused of illegally negotiating the accident claims with the insurance company and receiving $5,800 for Investigator #1 and $5,600 for Investigator #2. From that settlement, she is accused of paying $2,900 and $2,800 to the undercover investigators. After the insurance companies paid out money in the cases involving the first two OCDA undercover investigators, Hua is accused of requesting referrals of people involved in car accidents from Investigator #1.

In September 2008, Investigator #1 returned to Hua with a new undercover investigator, posing as a driver involved in a car accident. Hua is accused of referring Investigator #3 and his “passenger,” undercover Investigator #4 to Han for treatment.

Between September and November 2008, Han is accused of “treating” the two OCDA undercover investigators 13 and 11 times, respectively. On Nov. 28, 2008, he is accused of overbilling the insurance company by claiming 20 visits for each “patient.”

Hua is accused of coaching the two undercover investigators on what to say when interviewed by the insurance company about the “accident.” She is accused of negotiating a $5,000 settlement for each undercover investigator and paying from that settlement $2,695 to Investigator #3 and $2,775 to Investigator #4.

SECOND WALK-IN CASE

Guillermo Cabrera, Chiropractor
Case # 09CF1124
Age: 39
Residence: Mission Viejo
Business Name: C&N Chiropractic Clinic
Business Address: 1155 Central Ave., Ste. 110, Santa Ana
Felony Charges: two counts of insurance fraud, one count of grand theft, and two counts of unlawful receipt of consideration by claims handler for referral
Maximum Exposure: 8 years in prison
Bail: $50,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Rose Tsai, Attorney
Case # 09CF1124
Age: 40
Residence: Santa Ana
Business Name: Law Offices of Rose Tsai
Business Address: 18662 MacArthur Blvd., Second Floor, Irvine
Felony Charges: one count of insurance fraud
Misdemeanor Charges: one count of the unlawful receipt of funds
Maximum Exposure: 5 years in prison
Warrant Amount: posted $50,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 21, 2009
Department: C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Blanca Estrela Real, law office administrator
Case # 09CF1124
Age: 33
Residence: Tustin
Business Name: Law Offices of Rose Tsai
Business Address: 18662 MacArthur Blvd., Second Floor, Irvine
Felony Charges: one count of insurance fraud
Misdemeanor Charges: one count of the unauthorized practice of law
Maximum Exposure: 5 years in prison
Bail: $50,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

In July 2006, an OCDA undercover investigator, Investigator #1, went to Cabrera’s chiropractic office posing as an office manager for an attorney. Cabrera is accused of agreeing to a 30 percent kickback scheme in exchange for patient referrals from Investigator #1.

In August 2006, Investigator #2, who was posing as an injured driver from a car accident, went to Cabrera’s office with Investigator #1. Cabrera is accused of “treating” Investigator #2 nine times. He is accused of overbilling the insurance company $470 for additional services not rendered during the nine “treatments.” After receiving $1,420 from the insurance company, Cabrera is accused of illegally kicking back $473 to Investigator #1 as his 30 percent referral fee.

In September 2007, two OCDA undercover investigators called the Law Offices of Rose Tsai and spoke with Real. Real is accused of practicing law without a license and signing up Investigator #3 and Investigator #4 as clients. Real is accused of referring the undercover investigators to Cabrera for “treatments.”

Investigator #3 did not visit Cabrera at Real’s referral and instead brought in a fake “bill” from another “chiropractor” for treatment of his “injuries.” Cabrera is accused of “treating” Investigator #4 nine times and overbilling the insurance company $590 for services not rendered during the “treatments.”

Based on Cabrera’s bill for Investigator #3 and a fake bill submitted by Investigator #4, Real is accused of negotiating a settlement with Infinity Insurance, the “at fault” insurance company. She is accused of receiving $5,000 for Investigator #3 and paying him $2,546. She is accused of receiving $2,500 for Investigator #4 and paying him $1,236.

Real is accused of illegally double billing for the same “accident” by filing claims with the “not at fault” insurance company, Progressive Insurance. She is accused of receiving $2,640 for Investigator #3 and $1,270 for Investigator #4.

Tsai is accused of allowing Real to illegally practice law without a license or supervision on behalf of her law office, allowing her to unlawfully use the attorney-client trust account, and profiting from the insurance fraud.

NEW K-FRAUD DEFENDANT

Lam Thi Nguyen, law office administrator
Case # 09CF0231
Age: 37
Residence: Costa Mesa
Business Name: L&M Legal Services/
Law Offices of Walter Martinez
Business Address: 14482 Beach Boulevard, Westminster
Felony Charges: one count of conspiracy to commit a crime
Misdemeanor Charges: one count of the unauthorized practice of law
Maximum Exposure: 4 years 8 months
Bail: $10,000
Arrest Date: Today, May 7, 2009
Arraignment Date: May 8, 2009
Department: TBA, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

On March 27, 2007, two OCDA undercover investigators posing as “patients” involved in a car accident went to L&M Legal Services/Law Offices of Walter Martinez. Nguyen and Lisa Marie Tran, another office administrator, are accused of referring the two undercover investigators to Chiropractor Keith Tran Callaway for “treatment.” Nguyen is accused of being told by one of the OCDA undercover investigators that the information on the accident report contained false information. She is accused of coaching the two undercover investigators not to talk to any insurance company officials about the “accident.”

Between March 28, 2007, and July 3, 2007, chiropractic administrator Ky Hoang Tran is accused of “treating” the two OCDA undercover investigators for nine and 11 visits, respectively, at Callaway’s chiropractic office. She is accused of getting the two OCDA undercover investigators to sign for additional dates where they did not receive “treatment” to falsify the number of visits for billing purposes.

On Nov. 13, 2007, Callaway and Ky Tran are accused of overbilling by claiming 25 and 29 visits, amounting to $4,168 and $3,748, knowing most of the billings were fraudulent. On Sept. 7, 2007, a letter from the Law Office of Walter Martinez was sent to Infinity Insurance Companies demanding $18,000 and $17,000 for the two OCDA undercover investigators.

Sometime after Jan. 29, 2008, Nguyen and Lisa Tran are accused of splitting two checks for $6,500 and $6,000 with Ky Tran and Callaway, and kicking back $3,250 and $3,000 to the OCDA undercover investigators posing as patients.

Nguyen was arrested today on a warrant for this case. Her three co-defendants were arrested in the initial Feb. 4, 2009, sweep. All four are under Case #09CF0231.

Defendant Callaway, 42, Huntington Beach, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime, one felony count of insurance fraud, and one felony count of grand theft. Lisa Tran, 48, Midway City, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one misdemeanor count of the unauthorized practice of law. Ky Tran, 67, Fullerton, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one felony count of grand theft. All three are out of custody on $50,000 bail each and are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on May 28, 2009.

ADDITIONAL K-FRAUD CASE UPDATES

Chiropractor Mark Allen Tichelaar, 50, Anaheim, is charged with one felony count of insurance fraud, one felony count of grand theft, and two felony counts of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on May 15, 2009. (Case #09CF0232)

Chiropractor Tam Van Nguyen, 35, Westminster, is charged with one felony count of insurance fraud, one felony count of grand theft, and one felony count of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on June 5, 2009. (Case #09CF0235)

Chiropractor Florin Catinas, 35, Anaheim, is charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud, two felony counts of grand theft, and two felony counts of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for preliminary hearing on May 11, 2009. (Case #09CF0236)

Attorney David Gonzalez, 46, Placentia, is charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud, two felony counts of grand theft, and one felony count of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for preliminary hearing on May 11, 2009. (Case #09CF0236)

Chiropractor Michael Benjamin Saloman, 42, Paramount, is charged with two felony counts of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $10,000 bail. He is scheduled for arraignment on May 11, 2009. (Case #09CF0149)

Chiropractor Dung Tuan Le, 57, Westminster, is charged with one felony count of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for preliminary hearing on June 1, 2009. (Case #09CF0234)

Office administrator Rosalyn Mai, 50, Westminster, is charged with one felony count of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. She is scheduled for preliminary hearing on June 1, 2009. (Case #09CF0234)

Chiropractor Quan Hoang Tran, 35, Huntington Beach, is charged with one felony count of unlawfully receiving consideration by a claims handler for referral and is out of custody on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on May 18, 2009. (Case #09CF0233)

Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Contacts:

Susan Kang Schroeder, Public Affairs Counsel
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami. Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

Note: Another chiropractor who was accused was subsequently acquitted, so his name has been removed from this report.)

This article was revised on December 16, 2012.

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