Scam Nets N.C. Chiropractor 28 Months, $372,000 Fine

April 22, 2005

A chiropractor who operated clinics in Greenville and Raleigh, N.C. has been sentenced to 28 months in prison and ordered to pay $372,000 to insurance companies he reportedly defrauded in a billing scam.

Steven Ira Cohen, 52, was handcuffed by federal marshals and taken into custody after a two-day sentencing hearing in federal court in Greenville.

The Raleigh News-Observer quoted Cohen as commenting before sentencing, “I’m not a good manager, but I’m a good doctor.”
Federal indictments said Cohen billed $1.5 million. Prosecutor Yvonne Watford-McKinney told Judge Malcom Howard that Cohen submitted false bills to insurance companies.

Howard approved an agreement between prosecution and defense attorneys last July that allowed Cohen to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud. Federal prosecutors agreed to drop 548 other counts.

Cohen’s attorney, Larry Economos of Greenville, argued that poor record-keeping in the chiropractor’s office and unclear billing codes used by insurance companies resulted in inaccurate billing.

Andrew Gratzmiller, 32, of Lower Burrell, Pa., a chiropractor who had reportedly been associated with Cohen for six years, pleaded guilty to making false statements to a grand jury investigating their billing in 2003. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

Gratzmiller testified for the prosecution that he and Cohen reportedly moved billing records from the clinic after an insurance company began requesting them. He said Cohen’s office billed insurance companies for services that were not provided and falsely claimed that services were provided by medical doctors who sometimes worked at the clinic.

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