ORLANDO—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that the United States has filed a criminal complaint charging Joseph Wagner (62, Daytona Beach) with illegally dispensing and distributing prescription drugs and health care fraud. If convicted, Wagner faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for each charge.
According to court documents, in 2009, the Personal Injury Protection Fraud Squad of the Florida Department of Financial Services opened an investigation into Wagner Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic (WCAC) after receiving complaints about WCAC from the Special Investigative Units of several private automobile insurance carriers. These complaints involved charges submitted to the insurance carriers by WCAC for medical and chiropractic services and treatments that had never taken place. In addition, investigators learned that Wagner, at the time a chiropractor who was not authorized to prescribe any drugs, submitted prescriptions for customers on pre-stamped or pre-signed prescription pads using the names of medical doctors, making each such prescription unlawful.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other federal agencies adopted the investigation, and on August 4, 2011, agents executed a federal search warrant at WCAC. Following the execution of the search warrant, in August 2011, the Florida Department of Health served Wagner with an Emergency Suspension Order, and his Florida chiropractic licensed was revoked.
According to interviews conducted by the FBI and other federal agencies, none of the WCAC customers had ever been treated or examined by anyone other than Wagner or, in some instances, by Wagner’s son. Yet those customers had received prescriptions for controlled substances, primarily Lortab (Hydrocodone) and Xanax, from medical doctors who had never examined or treated the customers. All of the prescriptions were relayed to various local pharmacies in the Daytona Beach area by telephone or facsimile after the customers had been to WCAC and had seen Wagner. Customers who did not have any type of health insurance paid Wagner $100 cash, every month, and received a monthly prescription for controlled substances, as well as a “back crack” from Wagner.
Other customers, who were on Social Security disability and were covered by Medicare, received weekly prescriptions for controlled substances in the same manner. However, their Medicare coverage was billed for treatments provided by a medical doctor who had never treated or examined them. Still other customers, who were covered by a private health insurance plan, were provided weekly prescriptions for controlled substances, again relayed either by telephone or facsimile to local pharmacies. The prescriptions were issued by a medical doctor who had never treated or examined the customers, and the customers’ private health insurance plans were billed in the name of doctors who had never treated or examined the customers.
A criminal complaint is merely a charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Food and Drug Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Florida Department of Financial Services; the Florida Department of Health; and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.