Attorney Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud and Receives no Jail Time
One of six personal injury attorneys part of an insurance fraud scheme has managed to avoid a sentence to time in prison through a guilty plead. The attorney is known as Steven Slootsky and practiced personal injury law in Boca Raton, Florida. Slootsky, along with five other Florida personal injury lawyers, were arrested for paying for clients using a scheme known as kickbacks.
A kickback scheme utilizes non-attorneys to solicit to car-accident victims for law firms that get payments from certain doctor’s offices for referring the car accident victims as patients which is a highly unethical, not to mention illegal practice for both lawyers and doctors. The amount of money involved in the insurance scheme involving Slootsky and the five other lawyers amounted in the millions.
6 Lawyers Charged in Florida Insurance Fraud
Federal prosecutors charged six Florida lawyers with running an insurance fraud scheme through several healthcare providers such as Margate Physicians and Broward Spine associates. The six Florida lawyers were charged with a variety of felonies such as patient brokering, organized fraud, and money laundering. All of the lawyers have since had their licenses to practice law in the state of Florida revoked and all mention of them has been removed from their respective firms.
One Lawyer Escapes Jail Time Through a Guilty Plea
The lawyers as well as their healthcare provider accomplices all face serious fines as well as time in prison for their crimes of racketeering and fraud. In the case of Steven Slootsky, prison time may have been avoided but the Florida lawyer hardly is getting off the hook. Steven Slootsky was sentenced by Broward Circuit Judge Michael A. Usan to 10 years probation on one count and five years probation, to be served concurrently, on 14 other counts.
In Slootsky’s plea agreement, he had agreed to spend up to five years in prison and pay more than 170,000 in restitution. Apparently he was sentenced to all the stipulations in the guilty plea agreement except for the prison time. These stipulations also included 500 hours of community service, the loss of ability to practice law, and restitution to the victims of the insurance scheme.
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The Kickback Insurance Fraud Scheme
Slootsky and his associates were arrested for running what is called a “kickback” scheme. A kickback scheme is when a person or business uses a third party to find them new clients in exchange for a percentage of the profit for finding them a new client. This kind of scheme is closely associated with lawyers and healthcare providers that use it to accumulate business via illegal means. Kickback schemes can also be done in conjunction with other illicit business practices.
Kickback Schemes to Get Law Firm Clients
The six lawyers as well as their various associates that helped run the kickback scheme had a fairly textbook example of a kickback scheme. It all starts with a car accident where someone is injured. A tow truck driver or body shop owner would recommend one of the lawyers in the kickback scheme and then the driver would receive a cash payment for sending clients to the lawyers and doctors.
The car accident victim that was injured would take the advice from the tow truck driver or body shop owner as legitimately useful advice from someone who has experience with dealing as such things. Little do they know that the suggestion is not a sincere recommendation but has been bought by a law firm and/or healthcare provider competing for their business. This is why this practice is considered unethical and therefore illegal in the eyes of federal and state law.
These six lawyers, including Mr. Slootsky, were doing what is commonly known as “ambulance chasing”. Instead of the old image of lawyers waiting outside emergency rooms to ambush injured people with solicitations of their services, Slootsky and his partners in crime utilized more indirect methods of soliciting services that are still just as illegal.
Kickback Schemes to get Healthcare Provider Clients
The next part of the scheme would be for the lawyers to recommend a specific healthcare provider such as Margate Physicians and Broward Spine associates the same way the tow truck drivers recommended the lawyers where the lawyers and the healthcare providers will have worked out a deal where they share on the profits for sending clients their way. Once again this act of sending clients to a healthcare provider as part of a deal to share profit is completely illegal since patients should not have to worry about being coerced into choosing a certain healthcare provider by someone under their payroll.
Kickback Schemes to get PIP Insurance Money
Once the injured car accident victim becomes a client of the healthcare provider then they can start billing the client’s PIP or Personal Injury Protection insurance for their profit. This is where the insurance fraud portion of the six lawyer’s sentences come in.
Florida and Federal Law Prohibiting Kickback Schemes and Fraud
Kickback schemes are seen as a form of negotiated bribery where a commission is paid to a bribe taker in exchange for their services which in this case would be client referral. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute is a criminal statute that prohibits kickbacks in addition to a variety of other anti-insurance fraud laws that prevent the abuse of PIP insurance. Florida itself has several laws on the state level that prohibit the acts taken by his associates as well.
Seek an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about a free consultation on your claim. Our skilled lawyers have the expertise that you will need to secure the settlement that you deserve and hold the parties liable for your injuries accountable.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765