LOS ANGELES – A South Bay chiropractor was sentenced today to 14 months in federal prison for taking kickbacks from Pacific Hospital – a corrupt medical center in Long Beach whose owner was later imprisoned – and for soliciting kickbacks from another Southern California hospital.
Brian Carrico, 68, of Redondo Beach, was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who also ordered him to pay a fine of $25,000.
Carrico pleaded guilty on February 24 to one count of soliciting kickbacks – the same day his two Redondo Beach-based companies, Performance Medical & Rehab Center Inc., and One Accord Management Inc., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit kickbacks.
Judge Staton today also sentenced Carrico’s companies to one year of probation and fined them each $250,000.
Carrico is a licensed chiropractor and owned Performance Medical & Rehab Center, which treated injured workers. Surgeons saw patients at Performance Medical’s offices. Carrico also owned One Accord Management, which provided billing, collection and other support services for Performance Medical.
His criminal partner, William Parker, 68, of Redondo Beach, owned Union Choice Therapy Network, which had a contract with Pacific Hospital and paid One Accord money from that contract. Last month, Parker was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and was fined $5,500. He pleaded guilty on February 24 to one count of soliciting kickbacks.
From June 2004 to December 2013, Carrico and Parker participated in a kickback scheme in which Pacific Hospital overpaid for the value of services performed under its Union Choice contract to induce Carrico and Parker to refer patients to Pacific Hospital for surgeries and other treatment.
Pacific Hospital specialized in surgeries, especially spinal and orthopedic procedures. The owner of Pacific Hospital, Michael D. Drobot, conspired with doctors, chiropractors and marketers to pay kickbacks in return for the referral of thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other medical services paid for primarily through the California workers’ compensation system.
During its final five years, the scheme resulted in the submission of more than $500 million in medical bills for spine surgeries involving kickbacks. To date, 22 defendants have been convicted for participating in the kickback scheme.
In April 2013, law enforcement searched Pacific Hospital. Later that year, Carrico learned Pacific Hospital was going to be sold and the kickback scheme would end. Rather than cease their criminal conduct after the Pacific Hospital search, Carrico and Parker then approached an executive at a different hospital and solicited kickbacks from him.
Specifically, Carrico and Parker offered a quid pro quo in which the referral of patients to the hospital was contingent on that hospital entering into a management services agreement with Union Choice. Under the proposed agreement, the hospital would have paid Union Choice a total of $110,000 over the span of four months – more than the market value of the services performed.
While not written into the contract, Carrico and Parker would cause the referrals of Performance Medical patients to go to this hospital. The hospital’s executive ultimately rejected the deal.
“[Carrico], as the licensed medical professional, had control and influence over the location where patients had spinal surgeries,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Patients are not commodities that can be traded for kickbacks.”
The United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the California Department of Insurance investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph T. McNally and Billy Joe McLain of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case.