LOS ANGELES – A South Bay chiropractor was sentenced today to 14 months in federal prison for taking bribes from Pacific Hospital – a corrupt Long Beach medical center whose owner was later jailed – and for soliciting bribes from another Southern California hospital.
Brian Carrico, 68, of Redondo Beach, was convicted by US District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who also ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine.
Carrico pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to one count of soliciting bribes — on the same day his two Redondo Beach-based companies, Performance Medical & Rehab Center Inc. and One Accord Management Inc., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit bribes. .
Judge Staton also today sentenced Carrico’s businesses to one year probation and fined $250,000 each.
Carrico is a licensed chiropractor and belongs to the Performance Medical & Rehab Center, which treats injured workers. Surgeons saw patients at Performance Medical offices. Carrico also owned One Accord Management, which provided billing, collections and other support services for Performance Medical.
His partner in crime, William Parker, 68, of Redondo Beach, owned Union Choice Therapy Network, which had a contract with Pacific Hospital and paid money to One Accord from that contract. Last month, Parker was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and fined $5,500. He pleaded guilty on February 24 to one count of soliciting bribes.
From June 2004 to December 2013, Carrico and Parker participated in a kickback scheme in which Pacific Hospital overpaid the value of services rendered under its Union Choice contract to induce Carrico and Parker to steer patients to Pacific Hospital for surgeries and other treatments.
Pacific Hospital specializes in surgeries, especially spinal and orthopedic procedures. Pacific Hospital owner Michael D. Drobot conspired with doctors, chiropractors and marketers to pay bribes in exchange for referring thousands of patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries and other medical services paid for primarily through the California workers’ compensation system. .
In its last five years, the program has resulted in the submission of more than $500 million in medical bills for spine surgeries involving kickbacks. To date, 22 defendants have been convicted for participating in the bribery scheme.
In April 2013, law enforcement raided Pacific Hospital. Later that year, Carrico learned that Pacific Hospital was to be sold and the kickback program would end. Rather than cease their criminal conduct after the Pacific Hospital raid, Carrico and Parker then approached an executive from another hospital and demanded bribes.
Specifically, Carrico and Parker proposed a misunderstanding in which the referral of patients to the hospital depended on that hospital entering into a management services agreement with Union Choice. Under the proposed agreement, the hospital would have paid Union Choice a total of $110,000 over a four-month period, more than the market value of the services rendered.
Although not written in the contract, Carrico and Parker would arrange for Performance Medical patients to be referred to this hospital. The hospital executive ultimately rejected the deal.
“[Carrico], as a licensed medical professional, had control and influence over where patients underwent spinal surgeries,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Patients are not commodities that can be exchanged for bribes.”
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and California Department of Insurance investigated the matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph T. McNally and Billy Joe McLain of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted the case.