When insurance firms launched social media initiatives, the results were rewarding.
June 25--HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The good deeds Larry Herman had done to help charity and Frederick-area runners were not enough to spare him time in prison, a federal judge decided Tuesday.
Herman, 48, a Frederick chiropractor and former Frederick Marathon assistant director, pleaded guilty in December in a Pennsylvania federal court to filing false statements in health care matters, a felony.
According to prosecutors, Herman, who owns Herman Chiropractic in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, filed a bogus automobile accident injury claim.
Herman submitted a claim to the USAA insurance company in May 2012 for injuries he said he suffered in an August 2011 automobile accident in Maryland, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
To support his claim of injuries and demand for $60,000 from the insurance company, Herman instructed a chiropractor who works for him to create false treatment records, which were printed on letterhead for a fictitious business, according to prosecutors.
Around the same time, in late 2011, Herman participated in several 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
During an emotional sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in Harrisburg, two of Herman's friends testified about his good character.
"I've grown to know Larry as a rare and truly selfless person," James Hyrkas said. He said Herman's guilty plea to a felony crime was an "absolute aberration" in his overall character.
Seventeen people sent the judge letters in support of Herman, who is a member of Marathon Maniacs and former member of the board of directors of Running USA. He founded Running Down a Dream and was the winner of the 2006 Lewis Memorial Annual Award from the Frederick Steeplechasers' Running Club.
Herman also donated his time to several other charitable causes, his attorney Michael J. McCarrie said.
McCarrie called the witnesses as he tried to persuade Rambo to consider variances from federal sentencing guidelines, which recommended a 10-month to 16-month sentence, according to court records.
McCarrie argued that a variance was justified for two reasons: that the recommended sentence was based on an intended $60,000 loss but USAA never suffered any loss, and because other people, including the other chiropractor and Herman's attorneys, also had roles in the false claim.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel disputed the arguments. Federal sentencing guidelines are based on the intended loss, he said.
Daniel also said the second chiropractor's role was the result of coercion by Herman. The 26-year-old chiropractor worked at Herman's office and was approached more than once by him about the claims. He instructed her which billing codes to use and created the template on which to print the bills, Daniel said.
The attorneys who were representing Herman for the insurance claim initially believed him but refused to continue work after the deception came to light, Daniel said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office signed a nonprosecution agreement with the other chiropractor.
Herman apologized during the hearing.
"I apologize to everyone involved for my actions," Herman said.
Rambo said she agreed that Herman's actions were "out of character" but that a "just punishment" was necessary.
She sentenced him to five months in prison, beginning later this month. After release, Herman must serve an additional five months of home confinement during a one-year sentence of supervised release and pay a $700 fine.
The maximum penalty for the charge is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the FBI.
Herman declined to comment after the hearing.
Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.
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