A Hudson County man is headed to federal prison for a plea-bargained year and a day for recruiting accident victims for an insurance fraud racket that racked up $3.5 million in bogus medical bills.
Luis G. Aguirre, 57, of Kearny admitted in March that he worked as a “runner,” steering accident victims to various chiropractors, medical imaging centers and others who billed PIP insurance plans for medically unnecessary services.
Health care providers gave Aguirre $500 in cash for each victim he delivered, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Aguirre and an employee from an auto body shop in West New York found the victims through word-of-mouth in the community and through relationships with health care providers in North Jersey, Carpenito said.
Aguirre then directed the accident victims to visit specific health care providers to obtain medically unnecessary X-rays, MRIs and other unnecessary exams or services for phony or exaggerated injuries from the crashes, the U.S. attorney said.
Aguirre also made sure the victims filed police reports to support subsequent insurance claims, he said.
The providers submitted bogus insurance claims to the victims’ PIP insurance plans, Carpenito said.
Aguirre paid an undisclosed amount of money per victim to his accomplice, who, in turn, paid them, he said.
In one instance, Carpenito said, a North Bergen resident’s car was rear-ended at a red light in Elizabeth.
According to the police report, the North Bergen resident refused medical treatment at the scene.
The auto body shop worker learned that the victim “was willing to participate in the scheme in exchange for cash payment,” Carpenito said.
Aguirre admitted having the victim visit an MRI Center in Rochelle Park for a series of medically unnecessary X-rays that were billed to the victim’s insurance policy.
Aguirre’s participation in the conspiracy caused an estimated loss to PIP insurance plans of over $250,000, with total losses caused by the conspiracy exceeding $3.5 million, Carpenito said.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler sentenced Aguirre to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $53,710 in exchange for his guilty plea to conspiring to commit health care fraud.
Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) and the FBI with the investigation leading to the plea and sentence, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of his Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.