The Good The Bad And The Ugly

Tax Evasion—Not a Good Idea

MAINE: A Bangor chiropractor pleaded guilty recently in U.S. District Court to tax evasion one week before his jury trial was scheduled to begin. Dr. Richard J. Thomas, 64, was indicted more than three years ago on six counts of tax evasion between 1995 and 2001.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Thomas admitted to evading paying federal income taxes in 2001. The counts covering the previous years are expected to be dropped after the chiropractor is sentenced.

Thomas also agreed to waive his right to appeal the sentence if it does not exceed 18 months.

The chiropractor could be ordered to pay back taxes for all six years. Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy estimated that Thomas owed between $200,000 and $400,000 in back taxes.

Thomas is free to dispute that figure at his sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock told him.

In pleading guilty, Thomas conceded that the government would be able to prove he did not have a “good faith basis” for refusing to file federal tax returns or pay taxes. In addition, the chiropractor admitted using a number of deceptive techniques to attempt to dupe the government, according to court documents.

Bangor Daily News


Health Care Fraud Doesn’t Pay

CONNECTICUT: The owner of a chiropractic business in Simsbury pleaded guilty in late January in federal court in New Haven to health care fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Eugene Bolognese, 36, of Teachers Turn, Simsbury, waived his right to an indictment and entered his plea before Judge Janet Bond Arterton, acting U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy said.

According to Dannehy, Bolognese at various times employed two physicians in his chiropractic practice. Bolognese submitted fraudulent claims to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield using the physicians’ provider numbers. The claims were for services and procedures purportedly rendered by the physicians on days when the physicians were not at the office.

Dannehy said Bolognese admitted receiving $573,036 as a result of this scheme, and he has agreed to pay restitution in this amount to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Bolognese faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of as much as $250,000.

Hartfort Courant


Two Patients of Corte Madera Chiropractor Seek Refunds in Small Claims Court

CALIFORNIA: Two former patients took a Corte Madera chiropractor to small claims court in late January, alleging false advertising and scare tactics and demanding refunds.

Chiropractor Donald Harte denied the allegations, calling the hearing a “malicious show.”

Gertrude West of Larkspur said Harte lured her into his practice with false advertising, used scare tactics to get her to sign a long-term contract and refused to refund her money when her condition failed to improve.

Victoria Pollock-Grasso of Tiburon objected to Harte charging her a $559 administrative fee when she decided to stop receiving adjustments from him. Grasso said she stopped seeing Harte because an orthopedist she went to for a second opinion informed her she had degenerative disc disease in her cervical spine and that Harte’s manipulation of her neck could cause her to have a stroke.

Most of the hearing focused on West, who is seeking a full refund of the more than $6,000 she paid Harte since beginning treatments in March 2008. West, 76, said Harte attracted her into his care with a “misleading” ad that appeared in a local weekly newspaper. She said Harte also miscalculated what she owes him and overcharged her by $353.

In the ad, Harte stated that patients had come to him with a long list of symptoms. West was seeking relief from painful arthritic knees. A surgical partial replacement of one knee in 2005 had not improved her condition.

The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which regulates chiropractors in California, notified Harte in 2004 that a similar ad violated state regulations and ordered him to stop using it. Harte responded by launching a counterattack against the board’s enforcement officers. He asserted the board was persecuting him and other “straight” chiropractors.

West said she took advantage of a “special offer” that Harte made to new patients. For $47, she received an examination, spinal X-ray and a “neurological scan.”

West said Harte told her that the X-rays revealed severe spinal degeneration of her neck and low back.

“I see now that these statements were nothing but scare tactics designed to induce me to sign the contract,” she said.

West said Harte told her he wouldn’t treat her unless she signed a long-term contract, so she paid $6,354 in advance for 100 visits. But when her knee pain failed to improve after 49 visits over four months, West decided to stop the treatments and requested a partial refund.

West said Harte refused, asserting that she violated a clause in her contract that requires “general adherence to the proposed schedule of care, and home care,” because she interrupted her treatments with several weeks of vacation.

Marin Independent Journal

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