MA Chiropractor Pleads Guilty to FraudScandalous Schemes — By Trace America on November 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM
If there’s anyone who wants to know a good way to ruin your career, take some notes out of Troy Wheelwright’s book. He used to be a chiropractic clinic operator, but he is most likely going to lose that privilege soon.
According to the Eagle-Tribune, a Salem Superior Court Judge has ordered Wheelwright to pay $2,279 in restitution for a bogus car crash that happened over nine years ago, but only on paper. But that amount is just the tip of the iceberg.
After pleading guilty on October 3rd to two misdemeanor counts of solicitation to commit auto insurance fraud, Wheelwright, 43, faces disciplinary action from the state Division of Professional Licensure. That could result in a possible suspension or revocation of his license to practice.
One of his attorneys, Ingrid Martin said, “It’s too soon to know. It’s up to the (state) chiropractic board to make that decision.”
During a telephone interview, Martin stated, “My client is glad this is over, glad that we were able to resolve this with a plea of guilty to two misdemeanors and he looks forward to moving on with his life.”
But, should there be additional prosecution of his codefendants, as part of his plea agreement he is required to testify on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.
Wheelwright was also sentenced by Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
Wheelwright, who has been a chiropractor for more than 15 years, was one of eight area people indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury in 2008 that determined they were part of a conspiracy to stage phony accidents to defraud insurance companies. Wheelwright paid “runners” $350 to bring him patients from fake accidents, prosecutors alleged.
The indictments are due to an investigation that was started back in 2006 by the state attorney general’s office, working with detectives of Lawrence’s auto insurance fraud task force and investigators of the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts. That investigation focused on four staged crashes that took place between October 2002 and February 2003.
Previously, in late 2008, Judge Whitehead had dismissed the indictments against Wheelwright and attorney Socrates De La Cruz after finding that the prosecutors failed to show probable cause that a crime had been committed.
The Haverhill chiropractor was later re-indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges following an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office. The conspiracy charges were downgraded as part of the plea agreement.
“This guilty plea concludes a serious case of fraud in which the defendants defrauded insurance companies to make some quick cash, Grant Woodman, spokesperson for Attorney General Martha Coakley, said yesterday. “This is a crime that hurts consumers and impacts their premiums,” Woodman said.
The executive director of the industry-funded Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts, Dan Johnston, called the case “a big one.” He stated, “This is the third cog in the wheel for that major case prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office.”
With the “third cog’ remark, he was referring to the May convictions of two of Wheelwright’s codefendants, Andover attorney James C. Hyde and Dr. Michael H. Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Chiropractic Office. Wheelwright worked with Kaplan before opening up Haverhill Family Chiropractic.
Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced both Hyde and Kaplan to 2½ years in jail, which is similar to the highest punishment that was received by any of the professionals convicted this case.
Lawrence Police Chief John Romero, who assembled the city’s auto fraud task forced in late 2003, said he welcomed a lesser sentence for Wheelwright in return for his testimony –if it’s needed– against Hyde and Kaplan, who are free pending their court appeals. They both face another possible trial on pending conspiracy charges.
“It’s good to see that those people who profited the most from this fraud brought to justice and held responsible for their crimes,” Romero said. “I am pleased with the fact that he pleaded guilty and that he will be a witness in future cases because the fight against insurance fraud is far from over,” he said.
Johnston said he expected the case against Wheelwright to be referred to the Division of Professional Licensure and that it could lead to a suspension or revocation of his license.
Johnston also stated, “This is a continuation of now an eight-year long effort of our task force in Lawrence to clean up the bad reputation Lawrence developed because of people like Troy Wheelwright, who gave the city a black eye.”
This post is authored by Trace America.