ORLANDO, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that Joseph Wagner (62, Daytona Beach) today pleaded guilty to health care fraud, conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, and money laundering. Wagner faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. He was indicted on June 13, 2012.
According to the plea agreement, Wagner was a licensed chiropractor and owner of Wagner Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic (WCAC) in Volusia County, Florida. He operated WCAC as a facility that purported to provide chiropractic and other medical services to customers. On occasion, Wagner did provide chiropractic services to customers of WCAC. However, he also submitted inflated bills to public and private health care beneficiary programs, including Medicare. Wagner charged those programs at the higher rates for services rendered by medical doctors, instead of the rates appropriate for chiropractors. In addition, Wagner systematically submitted claims for reimbursement for services not rendered.
As part of the fraud scheme, Wagner submitted fraudulent billings in the names of medical doctors. By doing so, the health care beneficiary programs would make payments directly to those medical doctors. The doctors accepted those payments and would often split the fraudulently obtained insurance payments with Wagner. In the case of at least one medical doctor participating in the fraudulent scheme, Wagner received payments from the health care beneficiary programs by check and then deposited those checks into the medical doctor’s bank account.
Wagner also provided customers of WCAC with prescriptions for prescription drugs, often in return for cash payments. Since he could not prescribe controlled substances, Wagner provided prescriptions for controlled substances to customers of WCAC using the names of medical doctors who were aware that Wagner was using their names illegally. Many of the patients who obtained prescriptions for controlled substances through Wagner used their Medicaid coverage at pharmacies to pay for those controlled substances.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Florida Department of Financial Services, Florida Department of Health, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Irick.