St. Louis, MO - Police Officer Terri Owens of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD); Dr. Mitchell Davis, a St. Louis chiropractor; and his wife Galina Davis, all pled guilty today to federal charges arising out of a scheme to obtain un-redacted accident reports for use in Dr. Davis’s practice.
According to court documents, between 2007 and 2016, Dr. Davis owned and operated Davis Chiropractic Clinic, now known as City Health and Chiropractic. Located on Lindell Blvd in St. Louis, the clinic primarily provided services to accident victims. Galina Davis assisted Dr. Davis in identifying, soliciting, and scheduling potential accident victims.
According to SLMPD policy, the SLMPD will provide un-redacted accident reports only to persons involved in the accidents, the companies insuring them, or the lawyers representing them. Un-redacted accident reports contain detailed information, including addresses, telephone numbers, birthdates, and insurance information of the occupants of the vehicles. Dr. Davis and Galina Davis knew that the SLMPD would not disclose un-redacted police reports to them. To get around this policy, Galina Davis and Dr. Davis recruited, solicited, and paid individual SLMPD police officers to obtain un-redacted accident reports for them.
According to court documents, while on duty, Officer Owens accessed the SLMPD computers and thereafter disclosed the un-redacted reports to Galina Davis and Dr. Davis in exchange for cash payments. Owens knew that she was acting contrary to the SLMPD policies. In an attempt to conceal the bribery payments, Galina Davis met the officer on parking lots of various retail stores and paid the officers in cash for each un-redacted accident report.
Using the information from the un-redacted reports, Galina Davis contacted accident victims, identified herself as Gail, Allison, Kelly, Laura, or Shannon, and offered the accident victims free services at Davis Chiropractic. Dr. Davis and Galina Davis focused on identifying accident victims from neighborhoods where there was a large concentration of low-income victims. They believed that low-income individuals would be more receptive to their solicitations and offers of free services.
Once the accident victims came to Davis Chiropractic, Dr. Davis encouraged and pressured them to rate their pain level as 8 or 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. Dr. Davis told the patients that the higher pain level was necessary to obtain a higher settlement amount. Sometimes, patients would succumb to Dr. Davis’s pressure and enter a higher pain level. At other times, Dr. Davis entered a pain level in the patient records that was higher than the patients reported.
Dr. Davis routinely told patients that they needed about 21 chiropractic treatments, before the patients were examined and the nature, location, and severity of any injury had been determined. He also routinely referred accident patients to pain management doctors before there had been a determination that the patients needed the services. Dr. Davis told the patients that the chiropractic visits and the visits to pain management doctors would increase the amount of the insurance settlement. Dr. Davis’s share of the insurance settlement depended on the type and number of services that Davis Chiropractic provided to the accident victims.
Dr. Davis completed and submitted patient treatment records containing false information, which he knew insurance companies would consider in making settlement decisions.
Dr. Davis and the Government have stipulated that the loss resulting from the false statements in the patient health records is $550,000. The parties have further stipulated that the loss to the SLMPD is $146,000.
“This type of fraud affects more than the individuals involved. If the companies being defrauded pass on the cost, you end up paying more for insurance,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. “It is particularly egregious when the fraud is committed by those in positions of public trust.”
Terri Owens, 55, appeared before United States District Judge Rodney W. Sippel and pled guilty to one count of accepting bribes in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666. The bribery charges carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Sentencing is set for March 9, 2018.
Dr. Mitchell Davis, 47, of St. Louis County, appeared before Judge Sippel and pled guilty to one count of false statements relating to healthcare matters in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1035, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The health care related fraud charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. The conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Sentencing is set for March 9, 2018.
Galina Davis, 47, of St. Louis County, appeared before Judge Sippel and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to gain illegal access to a protected SLMPD computer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and faces up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both. Sentencing is set for March 9, 2018.
Two other former police officers have been charged in a related case. On December 6, 2017, Marlon Caldwell, 50, of St. Louis City, and Cauncenet Brown, 42, of Perris, CA, were indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to accept bribes in return for disclosing un-redacted police reports in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. They each face a penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Dorothy McMurtry and Reginald Harris are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.