Thief River Falls Chiropractor Indicted On Multiple Counts Of Wire Fraud And Identity Theft
United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced a federal indictment charging STEVEN RICHARD WISETH, 35, a Thief River Falls chiropractor, with six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. WISETH made his initial appearance earlier today before Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in U.S. District Court in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
As alleged in the indictment, from approximately March 2013 through April 2015, WISETH, a Doctor of Chiropractic and owner of Health Quest Family Chiropractic (“Health Quest”) in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, orchestrated a scheme to defraud health insurers by submitting and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims for chiropractic services.
As alleged in the indictment, WISETH’S scheme was dependent on maximizing patient volume at Health Quest, and he held promotional events where he gave away free food and drink, prizes, and gift certificates to induce current and prospective patients to visit Health Quest. After the promotional events, WISETH billed insurance companies for the provision of chiropractic services to substantial numbers of individuals who attended the events, including billing for services that were not provided. In some cases, WISETH used the personal and insurance information of attendees to bill the individuals’ insurance companies for services that were not provided, unbeknownst to the attendee. For example, on February 13, 2014, WISETH held a promotional event at Health Quest that he referred to as “ValenSpine’s Day.” WISETH submitted bills to insurance companies representing that he had treated approximately 219 patients on that day, purporting to have provided approximately 641 services.
As alleged in the indictment, WISETH also submitted false bills for services by misrepresenting the services that were actually provided to patients. For example, WISETH routinely submitted false bills for treatment with a “wobble chair,” which is a device intended to develop core strength. WISETH falsely represented to insurers that the services were performed for at least eight minutes under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional when, in fact, WISETH merely stocked his clinics’ waiting rooms with wobble chairs so that patients would sit in them while waiting for their appointments.
As alleged in the indictment, over the course of the two-year scheme, WISETH billed the insurance companies more than $3.1 million dollars, including bills for hundreds of treatments that were not provided or were overbilled, and the insurance companies paid WISETH and Health Quest more than $1.1 million.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber M. Brennan.
STEVEN RICHARD WISETH, 35
Thief River Falls, Minn.
- Wire fraud, 6 counts
- Aggravated identity theft, 2 counts
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600
The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.