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Published: Saturday, 3/25/2006

Lawyer not guilty of defrauding insurances

A Monroe lawyer accused in a scheme to defraud public and private health insurers in the U.S. government's case against the former MedBack clinics was found not guilty yesterday in federal court.

James N. Altiere III, 43, was found not guilty of conspiracy and money-laundering charges after a three-week trial in U.S. District Court. The jury began deliberations Thursday.

"I am glad that justice has finally been served in this case," Mr. Altiere said in an interview. "If I had been found guilty, my life would have been over."

Federal agents raided the corporate offices of the MedBack clinics in October, 2000, seizing billing and financial records.

Mr. Altiere, the firm's in-house counsel, was charged in February, 2005, in an eight-count indictment.

He was accused of participating in a scheme with the firm's owners, Paul M. Neumann and Timothy D. Neumann, to defraud about $4.8 million from public and private insurers for chiropractic services from June, 1997, to October, 2000.

Prosecutors said medical doctors were employed at the clinics in Toledo and other cities in northwest Ohio to submit false claims to health-care insurers, concealing that patients were receiving noncovered chiropractic services.

Judge James Carr presided over the trial, which included testimony from Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, health-care insurance representatives, and former MedBack employees.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Uram, who represented the government in the trial, said, "My only comment about the verdict is a fair trial always results in a fair verdict."

The Neumanns, who entered into plea agreements in September in exchange for their cooperation in the investigation, testified at the trial. They will be sentenced later by Judge Carr.

"I think the verdict as well as the quickness of the verdict sends a clear message that my client had absolutely no criminal intent. Now he can put this experience behind him and move on," said Jeff Collins, a Detroit area attorney who represented Mr. Altiere.

If convicted on all eight charges, which included conspiracy to commit health-care fraud and making false statements relating to a health-care matter, Mr. Altiere could have been sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined nearly $4.9 million.



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