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Published: Friday, 7/2/2004

Attorney for MedBack clinic accused of health-care fraud

A bill of information was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Toledo against a local attorney accused of being involved with a $4.8 million conspiracy to fraudulently bill federal and private insurance companies.

The information was filed against James N. Altiere III, 41, of 5496 Teakwood Drive, Monroe, who is registered to practice law in Ohio, for conspiracy to commit health-care fraud.

As in-house counsel for the MedBack clinics in northwest Ohio, Mr. Altiere caused bills to be submitted to insurers for noncovered chiropractic services that claimed services were performed by medical doctors that actually were performed by chiropractors, according to court records.

Mr. Altiere also caused to be submitted letters to health-care benefit plans that falsely stated that MedBack clinics did not perform chiropractic services after claims for the services were denied, according to the bill of information.

The billings took place between Aug. 1, 1997, and Oct. 18, 2000, court records state.

Seth Uram, an assistant U.S. attorney, and Sheldon Wittenberg, Mr. Altiere's attorney, said they could not comment on the case because it is pending.

Mr. Altiere has no pending disciplinary actions, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Jonathan Cherry of the Toledo Bar Association wouldn't comment on whether disciplinary action is being pursued against Mr. Altiere.

"We could take notice of filing of a criminal matter and often do," Mr. Cherry said. "If there was a criminal case pending against a lawyer, we would probably not undertake our investigation until the criminal case was complete."

In May, Susan D. Cousino, of 2016 Momany St., Oregon, a former office manager for the clinics, entered a guilty plea to related charges in the case.

In 2000, federal authorities served search warrants at MedBack medical buildings in Toledo, Findlay, Bryan, and Sandusky.

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