Physical Therapy Clinic Owner and Employee Sentenced for Fraud
BOSTON – The owner and operator of a Brockton physical therapy company and her employee were sentenced today for defrauding insurance companies in connection with physical therapy services purportedly provided to patients involved in car accidents.
Walkyrie Massie, a/k/a Vicky Lopes, 39, and Edward Rossi, 65, of Rochester, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 30 months and 18 months, respectively, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $174,597 in restitution to the defrauded insurance companies. Massie and Rossi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud in September and August 2014, respectively.
“The scam perpetrated by Massie and her employees defrauded insurance companies and deprived injured patients of proper care,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Patients deserve quality care and insurance providers need honest care-givers. This kind of fraud is corrosive to our healthcare system.”
“Westgate Physical Therapy was solely motivated by profit rather than patient care when it forged patient records and billed for medical care never provided scamming private insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “The FBI is dedicated to aggressively investigating this type of criminal activity because it has a great impact not only on private insurance companies but on the economy as a whole as well.”
Massie, the owner and operator of Westgate Physical Therapy in Brockton, and her employees submitted fraudulent medical progress notes to insurance companies, in connection with physical therapy the company purportedly provided to patients involved in car accidents. Specifically, Rossi, a licensed physical therapy assistant, was supposed to provide physical therapy to patients several times a week until the physical therapist, Deidre Chouinard, re evaluated the patient and signed off that the treatment was complete. Westgate would then send a bill to the responsible insurance company. The progress notes contained in the patients’ chart would also be used to determine personal injury protection payments, as well as any bodily injury settlements with other insurance companies.
In reality, for the majority of patients, Rossi simply filled in cookie-cutter treatment notes for patients who either never showed up that day, came into the clinic for mere minutes, or were not seen at all by Rossi because he was not present. Furthermore, Rossi signed notes for treatments that Massie performed, even though she was not licensed to do so. Based on these fraudulent submissions, from 2009 to 2011, Westgate billed insurance companies more than $400,000 and received more than $174,000 in payments.
During the investigation into Westgate’s activities, federal law enforcement used a cooperating witness, who claimed to have been in a car accident and sought treatment at Westgate. From March through June 2011, recordings made of this individual’s visits to Westgate captured how Massie boasted about forging the individual’s name to the sign-in sheets to falsely show that he had come in for treatment when he had not. In one recorded conversation, Rossi can be heard demonstrating how the therapy exercise equipment worked so that the individual would be able to describe the physical therapy if he were called in to give a statement to the insurance company about his injuries and treatment at Westgate.
In December 2014, Chouinard, Westgate’s physical therapist, was sentenced to three years of probation. A fourth defendant is awaiting trial.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and SAC Lisi made the announcement today. The Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau also assisted in this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelbey Wright.