Skip to main content
Press Release

New York Doctor Who Performed Unnecessary Back Surgeries As Part Of Trip-And-Fall Fraud Scheme Sentenced To 36 Months In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SADY RIBEIRO, a New York-licensed pain management doctor, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for his participation in a scheme to obtain fraudulent insurance reimbursements and other compensation from fraudulent trip-and-fall accidents.  U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein imposed today’s sentence. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Sady Ribeiro abused his professional license and broke his vow to do no harm by performing scores of medically unnecessary, invasive surgeries to increase the value of fraudulent trip-and-fall lawsuits.  In carrying out the scheme, Ribeiro and his co-conspirators preyed upon the most vulnerable members of society – many of whom were poor, drug addicts, or homeless – in order to enrich themselves.  Ribeiro now faces serious penalties for his callous crime.”

According to the Indictment, the Superseding Information, evidence presented in court, and statements made in court:

RIBEIRO, among others, was involved in an extensive fraud scheme through which fraud scheme participants defrauded businesses and insurance companies by staging trip-and-fall accidents and filing fraudulent lawsuits arising from those staged trip-and-fall accidents.

The fraud scheme participants recruited individuals (the “Patients”) to stage or falsely claim to have suffered trip-and-fall accidents at particular locations throughout the New York City area (the “Accident Sites”).  In the course of the fraud scheme, scheme participants recruited more than 400 Patients.  Members of the fraud scheme often recruited individuals who were extremely poor as Patients.  For example, it was common for Patients to ask for food when they would appear for their intake meetings with the lawyers.  Many of the Patients did not have sufficient clothing to keep them warm during the wintertime and had poor-quality shoes.  Members of the fraud scheme also recruited Patients who were drug addicts, and it was common for scheme participants to recruit Patients from homeless shelters in New York City.

In the beginning, scheme participants would instruct Patients to claim they had tripped and fallen at a particular location, when in fact, the Patients had suffered no such accidents.  Eventually, at the direction of the lawyers who filed fraudulent lawsuits on behalf of the Patients, scheme participants began to instruct Patients to stage trip-and-fall accidents, i.e., to go to a location and deliberately fall.  Common Accident Sites used during the fraud scheme included cellar doors, cracks in concrete sidewalks, and purported “potholes.”

After the staged trip-and-fall accidents, Patients were referred to specific attorneys who would file personal injury lawsuits (the “Fraudulent Lawsuits”) against the owners of the Accident Sites and/or insurance companies of the owners of the accident sites (the “Victims”).  The Fraudulent Lawsuits did not disclose that the Patients had deliberately fallen at the accident sites or, in some cases, had not fallen at all.  During the course of the fraud scheme, the defendants, together with others known and unknown, attempted to defraud the Victims of more than $31,000,000.

The Patients were also instructed to receive ongoing chiropractic and medical treatment from certain chiropractors and doctors, including RIBEIRO.  The fraud scheme participants advised the Patients that if they intended to continue with their lawsuits, they were required to undergo surgery.  As an incentive to getting surgery, the recruited Patients were offered a payment typically between $1,000 and $1,500 after they completed surgery (“Post-Surgery Payments”).  Patients generally were told to undergo two surgeries.

Doctors in the fraud scheme, including RIBEIRO, were expected to, and in fact did, conduct these surgeries, such as discectomies, regardless of the legitimate medical needs of the Patients.  RIBEIRO performed discectomies, among other medical procedures, on more than 200 Patients.  To maximize his patient base, RIBEIRO paid participants cash kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals.

*                *                *

In addition to the prison term, RIBEIRO, 72, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. 

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Mr. Williams also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Chiuchiolo, Nicholas Folly, Danielle Kudla, and Alexandra Rothman are in charge of the prosecution.

Contact

Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated March 23, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-113