Jefferson County Chiropractor Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison, Ordered to Repay $4.3 Million for Health Care, Disability Fraud
ST. LOUIS – Two employees of Jefferson County, Missouri chiropractors involved in a disability fraud conspiracy have been sentenced for their roles in the case.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Thursday sentenced Clarissa Pogue, 40, of DeSoto, to five years of probation to include six months of home confinement. She was also ordered to repay $286,000. On August 3, Judge Autrey sentenced Christina Barrera, 64, of St. Louis, to 14 months in prison and ordered her to repay $543,315.
Pogue and Barrera were convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in February of one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration, along with chiropractor Vivian Carbone-Hobbs. Carbone-Hobbs, now 61, of Fenton, was also convicted of 10 counts of health care fraud and two counts of theft of money from the United States. Pogue was also convicted of one count of theft of money from the United States.
The three conspired with Thomas G. Hobbs, Carbone-Hobbs’ husband, and others to fraudulently obtain disability payments for patients who were not disabled or injured.
Carbone-Hobbs and Hobbs own Power-Med Inc., a chiropractic clinic in Arnold. Hobbs, now 66, pleaded guilty in January and admitted conspiring to commit the crimes of health care fraud, making false statements, theft of government funds and Social Security fraud.
Hobbs admitted that beginning in 2011, he fraudulently assisted patients in receiving more than $3.5 million in disability benefit payments through the Social Security Administration’s Disability Trust Fund and through private disability benefit insurance providers. Hobbs charged patients thousands of dollars in exchange for the preparation of disability forms. He also coached patients in how to lie to the Social Security Administration and private insurers about their ability to perform basic activities like lifting things, sitting, standing and walking. Patients also had to pay hundreds of dollars for annual appointments to keep qualifying for disability payments.
Hobbs also used a fictitious medical license number and submitted false and fraudulent medical reports to buttress patients’ disability claims. Hobbs submitted or caused to be submitted false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement to health care benefit programs for services that were not provided, medically unnecessary services or services provided by unqualified persons to make it appear that the disability patients had medical conditions.
The chiropractors, employees and patients all faced charges in the case. Hobbs and Carbone-Hobbs will be sentenced later this year.
The cases were investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Berry, Dorothy McMurtry, Diane Klocke and Gwendolyn Carroll are prosecuting the case.
Anyone who suspects fraud involving the Disability Insurance Benefit Program is asked to contact the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General Hotline at: 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report/.