A Minneapolis man is the latest to be convicted in a highly-sophisticated, multi-million dollar health insurance scam involving a number of Twin Cities chiropractic clinics.
Yahye Mohamed Herrow, 46, of Minneapolis, was convicted in federal court on Wednesday for his involvement in a fraud scheme that took advantage of Minnesota's "no-fault car insurance system."
The system is designed to help patients in car accidents to get their bills paid in a timely fashion without having to go to court, but Herrow and two-dozen others treated it like a "piggy bank," the Department of Justice said.
The five-year long scheme generated millions of dollars in fraudulent payouts for chiropractors, runners, patients and personal injury lawyers.
Thus far, 26 people across seven separate metro-area chiropractic clinics have been implicated in the scheme, of whom 24 including Herrow have pleaded guilty or been found guilty.
"This very complex case uncovered a large-scale insurance fraud scheme orchestrated by corrupt chiropractors and their accomplices, which resulted in millions of dollars in losses for insurers and their customers," said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman.
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How the scheme worked
Herrow acted as a "runner" for Twin Cities chiropractor Angela Schulz, who is one of several chiropractors implicated in the scheme, federal authorities say.
Herrow would find those who had been injured in car accidents and entice them to attend treatments at Schulz's clinics, Meyer Injury Center and the Morrow Accident Rehabilitation Center.
Schulz is accused of paying Herrow and other runners illegal kickbacks in exchange for referring patients to her clinic.
These kickbacks were generally $500 to $2,500 per patient, much of which would go to the patient to entice them to attend treatments they didn't need or wouldn't otherwise have sought.
Once they had attended a predetermined number of appointments – the point at which auto insurance payments covered the cost of the kickbacks – Schulz would then pay the runners.
Patients were then often referred to personal injury lawyers to seek settlements from insurance companies for "pain and suffering," with the attorneys coaching them that they could get even more money if they continued to attend treatment.
$5 million over 5 years
During the trial, Herrow and others involved hid from insurers the fact that runners and patients.
Between 2011 and 2016, Schulz allegedly made more than $5 million from auto insurance companies, and paid more than $1 million out to runners and patients.
Federal court records show that Schulz is still awaiting trial for the allegations against her.
"They treated patients like commodities," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kokkinen. "They prescribed treatment plans to make money for the chiropractors, the runners, the patients, and personal injury attorneys, with little regard for whether the patient truly needed or benefitted from treatment."
Herrow was convicted of 1 count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and four counts of mail fraud.