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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chiropractor Sentenced To Five Years In Prison For Fraudulent Insurance Scheme

Fort Myers, Florida - United States District Judge John E. Steele sentenced Dr. Stephen M. Lovell (55, Windermere) to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $1.695 million, the proceeds of the offense. A jury found Lovell guilty on February 28, 2013, following a two-week trial.

According to testimony presented at trial, Xtreme Care Rehabilitation Center Inc. (“Xtreme Care”) was operating in Cape Coral, Florida as an unlicensed health care clinic since 2009. The State of Florida licensing requirements were circumvented by the conspirators as a result of the purported exclusive ownership of these clinics by licensed health care practitioners, including licensed chiropractor Dr. Stephen M. Lovell. As a result of the purported ownership of the clinics by a licensed health care practitioner, these clinics avoided greater regulatory scrutiny. In actuality, other conspirators including Francisco Huici Fernandez and Ernesto Diaz were the true owners of the clinics.

In furtherance of the health care fraud, the conspirators caused individuals to be recruited to be involved in staged accidents and received injuries. These individuals would then go to Xtreme Care in exchange for payment. Xtreme Care then billed insurance companies by submitting false claims through the mail for alleged medically necessary treatments that these patients received. Treatment was either never provided to these patients or was not medically necessary. Upon payment by the insurance company, the proceeds of the fraudulent activity were then transferred to corporations created by the conspirators to launder the proceeds of the criminal activity. Ultimately, Lovell and his co-conspirators received the benefits of the fraudulent activity through payments or expenditures for themselves from the corporate bank accounts.
Francisco Huici Fernandez and Ernesto Diaz previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the case. On March 13, 2013, Fernandez was sentenced to five years and ten months in federal prison. On July 15, 2013, Diaz was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the Cape Coral Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, Hialeah Police Department, City of Miami Police, Florida Department of Financial Services, along with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Federal Reserve Board - Office of the Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jesus M. Casas.

Updated January 26, 2015