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Aug. 09--A chiropractor from Parkland was sentenced to four years and four months in federal prison Friday for his role in a staged accident insurance fraud conspiracy in South Florida.
Lawrence Schechtman, 46, was also ordered to pay more than $2.4 million in restitution, his attorney Alvin Entin confirmed.
In December, Schechtman pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud that occurred between 2009 and 2012.
Federal prosecutors said that Schechtman, who worked at clinics in Palm Springs and Miami, signed off on treatments for people who fraudulently claimed they were accident victims as part of a staged-accident fraud ring that operated in several counties.
Investigators said they recorded co-conspirators damaging vehicles with sledgehammers before the people they recruited to pretend to be "victims" called authorities. The fraud began in late 2006 and went on until December 2012.
Entin asked U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to recommend that Schechtman, who suffers from heart and back problems, be allowed to serve his prison term at the Federal Medical Center prison in Butner, N.C. The judge agreed and gave Schechtman two months to turn himself in and begin serving his punishment.
Also on Friday, Marra sentenced Sircy Sacerio, also known as Sisi or Sircy Santos, 31, of Palm Springs, to four years in federal prison. Sacerio, who worked as a receptionist and office assistant, pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy and five counts of mail fraud, prosecutors said. Sacerio was ordered to pay more than $1.14 million in restitution.
Clinic owners submitted false insurance claims through 21 chiropractic clinics that were owned and controlled by members of the conspiracy and got medical professionals, including Schechtman, to prescribe and bill for unnecessary treatments or services that were not actually provided, investigators said.
So far, Operation Sledgehammer has charged 92 defendants in federal and state court, and federal judges have ordered defendants to pay more than $5 million in restitution to insurance companies, officials said.
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