A member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 has been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for scamming the healthcare plan for dockworkers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles out of more than a quarter million dollars.
United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner imposed the sentence Jan. 9 to David Gomez, who was convicted in October of 20 counts of mail fraud.
In 2009, Gomez and Sergio Amador opened the Port Medical clinic in Long Beach to provide medical and chiropractic care. The following year, they opened a second clinic under the same name in San Pedro.
The pair earned pay from the clinics and fellow members of the ILWU Local 13 got financial incentives in the form of sponsorships of softball and basketball teams, with the understanding that players would visit Port Medical, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Clinic medical charts would show that ILWU members and their dependents, including children as young as 5, received repeated chiropractic services, including multiple sessions of massage therapy. The problem was, they really had not. Government attorneys proved the ILWU members were asked to sign their names on multiple stickers that were used to create phony chart entries or their signatures on stickers affixed to the chart entries were simply forged.
Meanwhile, massage therapists were instructed to never write that a patient had indicated “no complaints” and to make sure not to copy or write chart entries “exactly the same each time, change things up a little!!!” to hide the scam.
According to court documents, a conservative assessment determined that the total amount of fraudulent bills was $258,913, and the health plan paid out $228,440, the government showed.
At sentencing, Judge Klausner ordered 53-year-old Gomez of San Pedro to pay $201,000 in restitution to the ILWU-Pacific Maritime Association Welfare Plan.
“Defendant Gomez concocted an elaborate scheme to enrich himself at the expense of his colleagues, their families and the insurance plan that protected their health,” said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, which investigated the case.
Amador pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt on April 6.