Surgeon, Lawyers Sentenced to Prison in Slip-and-Fall Scheme

April 28, 2023

A New York surgeon and two lawyers are the latest professionals to be sentenced for their roles in a massive massive trip-and-fall fraud scheme between 2013 and 2018 that exploited some of the most vulnerable citizens of the New York City area.

Personal injury attorneys George Constantine and Marc Elefant and orthopedic surgeon Andrew Dowd were sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.

According to Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Constantine and Dowd, who were convicted at trial in December 2022 of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, were each sentenced to 102 months in prison.

Elefant, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

Williams said Constantine, Dowd, and Elefant “abused their professional licenses and degrees and exploited some of the most vulnerable members of society – many of whom were poor, drug addicts, or homeless – in order to enrich themselves through this egregious trip-and-fall fraud scheme.”

According to the indictment, the evidence presented in court during trial, and other statements made during court proceedings, between 2013 and 2018, these three men, among others, engaged in an extensive fraud scheme through which they defrauded businesses and insurance companies by staging trip-and-fall accidents, providing medical treatments, and filing fraudulent lawsuits.

The fraud scheme participants recruited individuals to stage or falsely claim to have suffered trip-and-fall accidents at particular locations throughout the New York City area. In the course of the scheme, they recruited more than 400 patients, may of whom who were poor, drug addicted or homeless.

After the staged trip-and-fall accidents, patients were referred to specific attorneys, including Constantine and Elefant, who would file personal injury lawsuits against the owners of the accident sites and their insurance companies. The defendants, together with others, attempted to defraud the victims of more than $31,000,000.

Constantine personally filed nearly 200 fraudulent lawsuits and earned more than $5 million in settlement fees from these fraudulent cases. Elefant likewise filed nearly 200 fraudulent lawsuits and earned millions of dollars in settlement fees.

The patients were also instructed to receive ongoing chiropractic and medical treatment ad were required to undergo surgery from certain chiropractors and doctors, including Dowd. Dowd performed nearly 300 medically unnecessary surgeries and earned more than $3.2 million dollars. He received approximately $10,000 per surgery.

Others have also been sentenced in the scheme. They include Sady Ribeiro, a New York-licensed pain management doctor, who was sentenced in March to 36 months in prison. Ribeiro pleaded guilty last October. Adrian Alexander, the owner of a litigation funding company, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In April, he was sentenced to 36 months.

The defendants also face three years of supervision after release from prison.

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