Orthopedic surgeon Andrew Dowd, MD, and lawyer George Constantine have been convicted of defrauding businesses and insurance companies in a $31 million trip-and-fall fraud scheme, the U.S. Justice Department said Dec. 16.
Between 2013 and 2018, Dr. Dowd and Mr. Constantine, among others, engaged in a fraud scheme where patients were recruited to stage trip-and-fall accidents and then undergo medically unnecessary surgeries to increase the value of personal injury lawsuits.
Dr. Dowd and Mr. Constantine used a team of "runners"' who were paid in kickbacks to recruit the patients to stage or falsely claim they suffered trip-and-fall accidents at particular locations throughout the New York City area.
The patients were then directed to go to hospitals to obtain discharge papers and were brought to Mr. Constantine's office. Mr. Constantine would accept the case while failing to ask even the most basic questions during the intake process, filing nearly 200 fraudulent suits and earning more than $5 million in settlement fees.
Patients were then driven to meet with Dr. Dowd, who would perform arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgeries on patients within one to two weeks of meeting them. He paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks for these referrals without performing any physical exams on patients and fabricating medical records to make it seem like the patients were injured.
Patients were paid roughly $1,000 after each surgery and Dr. Dowd was paid around $10,000 per surgery. Dr. Dowd performed nearly 300 medically unnecessary surgeries and earned more than $3.2 million dollars.
Patients were recruited from homeless shelters and often suffered from drug and alcohol addiction.
Dr. Dowd and Mr. Constantine were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.