According to an announcement made by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, Sady Riberio, a New York licensed pain management doctor, has pled guilty to his involvement in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud with a scheme to obtain fraudulent insurance reimbursement and other compensation from the fraudulent trip-and-fall accident.
This is the second conviction of guilt in the concerned case. The first conviction of guilt was made by Adrian Alexander, the owner of a litigation funding company that has been alleged to be involved in a trip and fall fraud scheme.
Both defendants have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the fraud case before U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.
In a statement made to the public, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams is reported to have said, “As alleged, Sady Ribeiro abused his professional license and position of trust by performing medically unnecessary surgeries to increase the value of fraudulent trip-and-fall lawsuits. In carrying out the scheme, Adrian Alexander, who funded many of the fraudulent lawsuits, Sady Ribeiro, and their co-conspirators preyed upon the most vulnerable members of society to enrich themselves. Ribeiro and Alexander now await sentencing for their reprehensible crimes.”
The statement of the state attorney indicates the gravity of the issues and how these types of crimes are breaching public trust and exploiting the members of society and business entities to achieve their notorious interests.
The reports have indicated that Riberio and Alexander were part of a group that recruited patients to stage trip and fall accidents and then file fraudulent lawsuits based on the accident against entities. The objective of the staged accidents was to obtain exorbitant compensation from businesses and insurance companies by filing fraudulent cases against them. In the scheme, the defendants used to recruit individuals to falsely claim accidents at a particular location within the jurisdiction of New York and then collect evidence from specific places to substantiate their cases in the judicial forums. In this scheme, the defendants have reportedly recruited more than 400 patients.
Initially, their method of fraud involved the recruitment of patients. Then the patient was instructed to claim a false trip and fall accident at a particular location. However, later on, the lawyers involved in the fraudulent lawsuits scheme urged patients to stage trip and fall accidents at a specific location, i.e., to go to a place and deliberately fall.
The accident sites that the fraud scheme participants more commonly used include cellar doors, cracks in concrete sidewalks, etc. When patients staged trip and fall accidents, they were referred to specific attorneys who would file personal injury lawsuits against the occupiers or owners of the particular location. The lawsuits filed were fraudulent; in some cases, the patients did not have any injury at all, and the damages were wrongly mentioned, whereas, in other cases, patients did get injured, but the lawsuit cited minor injuries as severe injuries to increase the compensation claim.
In this whole scheme, the participants have reportedly defrauded victims of more than $31,000,000.
The participants of the fraud exploited the most vulnerable segments of society who needed money and put their lives at risk. The majority of the patients recruited by them even did not have access to basic amenities of life such as three times meals, items of clothing, and shelter.
Some of the recruits also included drug addicts. They used to search places, including homeless shelters in New York City, in search of patients who were willing to participate in the scheme in exchange for a small amount.
They used to select patients with poor financial status and offer them money to undergo surgeries and treatment to prolong the lawsuit to increase the amount of the compensation claimed. Patients who accepted their offer and underwent surgeries were paid $1,000 to $1,500, and this amount was paid after the surgery was completed. In some cases, the vulnerable victims were told to undergo more than one surgery, and they complied with the instructions of the scheme participants to earn some extra money.
The most crucial role played in this scheme was that of doctors like Ribeiro, who misused the licenses and the trust of the public in the prestigious medical profession by conducting false surgeries. The recruited patients were referred to these doctors, who conducted surgeries regardless of the legitimate medical needs of the patients. Ribeiro, himself performed surgeries on more than 200 patients. He even provided incentives to the operated patients to refer more patients to him.
In this scheme, when a suit was filed in a court of law, litigation funding companies were engaged to pay for the medical expenses and litigation costs. These funding companies included the company operated by defendant Alexander, who was a participant in the scheme.
The legal funding company was engaged even in cases where the patient had access to medical coverage through an insurance company or a government-subsidized program. The litigation funding company involved in the fraud not only paid the medical and litigation expenses but also provided financing for the scheme organizers and participant’s referral types, from $1,000 to $25,000 per person.
The conviction of guilt of the doctor and the litigation funding company in the fraud scheme indicates that there are some individuals misusing the concept of legal finance for selfish interests. This will result in serious consequences for the people who need lawsuit funding to pursue their legitimate causes without succumbing to the pressure of the insurance companies and business entities and settling for compromised claims.
Ultimately, it is essential to search who the company is owned by thoroughly before signing a funding contract and avoid potential issues.