Recent Texas Insurance Fraud Convictions
Texas Clinic Owner Sentenced in Insurance Fraud Scheme
On December 12, 2008, in Houston, Texas, Theresa Williams, owner of the Chiropractic Injury and Rehab and the Antioch Pain and Wellness Center, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,771,737 in restitution to The Hartford Insurance Company. Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder funds and testified for the government in the jury trial of her three co-defendants in January 2008.
According to court documents, beginning in September 2005 until about June 2006, Williams received checks from The Hartford for treatment and services never actually provided. Sandra Washington Johnson, a friend of Williams, was employed in Houston by The Hartford Insurance Company as a Level III claims adjuster. Johnson was authorized to order payments be made from The Hartford to medical clinics that had provided treatment to patients covered under The Hartford’s workers compensation insurance plans. Johnson caused checks to be mailed to the chiropractic clinics owned by Williams for treatment and services that were never actually provided. In return, Williams wrote kickback checks from the proceeds of the mail fraud scheme to “Charlie Johnson” or “C. Johnson Claims Service” to compensate Johnson for her role in the scheme. A total of $1,059,830 in Hartford checks were sent to Williams’s clinics, Chiropractic Injury and Rehab and Antioch Pain and Wellness Center.
Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Insurance Fraud
On November 25, 2008, in Houston, Texas, Eric Amoako, a personal injury attorney, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in an insurance fraud scheme. Amoako was convicted in January 2008 of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder funds and three counts of wire fraud. Amoako has voluntarily surrendered his Texas law license and is ineligible to practice law. According to court documents, Amoako was involved in a multi-million dollar insurance fraud scheme which operated from September 2005 through June 2006 involving kickbacks paid to The Hartford Insurance Company (The Hartford) Level III claims adjuster.
Sandra Washington Johnson, The Hartford employee, was authorized to issue payments from The Hartford to medical clinics that had provided treatment to patients covered under The Hartford’s workers compensation insurance plans. Johnson caused checks to be mailed to clinics owned by her friend Theresa Williams, as well as others, including Amoako, for treatment and services that were never actually provided. Amoako received $236,711 in fraudulent insurance checks from Johnson. He has paid $65,000 in restitution to The Hartford and has been ordered to pay the balance of $171,711. Dianne Winzer, a clinic owner, and her daughter Deandrea S. Wade were convicted along with Amoako and were sentenced in July 2008 to 41 months and 21 months in prison, respectively. Theresa Williams and Sandra Johnson pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Grayson County Woman Sentenced for $1.2 Million Insurance Fraud
AUSTIN – State District Court Judge Tracy Holmes sentenced former insurance company employee Brenda Buckaloo-Merchant to twelve years in prison today in Dallas. Buckaloo-Merchant had previously pleaded guilty to a first degree felony – the theft of $1,208,316 while working as an adjuster for Unitrin Business Insurance company of Dallas, Texas. A first degree felony carries a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison and a minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, and a fine of no more than $10,000. The indictment and prosecution of Ms. Buckaloo-Merchant was the result of an investigation by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and Texas Department of Insurance’s (TDI) Fraud Unit.
On September 25, 2008 Ms. Buckaloo-Merchant appeared in court before Judge Holmes and told the court that she used her position at Unitrin to steal over $1.2 million dollars from the insurance company. In describing the scheme to Judge Holmes, Buckaloo-Merchant said she wrote checks from Unitrin to a fictitious health care provider that was, in reality, Ms. Buckaloo-Merchant. In addition to the twelve-year prison sentence, Ms. Buckaloo-Merchant has been ordered to pay restitution of $1,208,316 to Unitrin and a $3,000 fine.
In April, Mission Investigations will attend the annual SIU conference. Mission Investigations has helped sponsor this event of fraud professionals, every year since its inception.