Jury selection is underway in Minneapolis for the first of several federal fraud trials involving Twin Cities chiropractors accused of making off with millions of dollars from insurance companies through yearslong parallel schemes.

Chiropractor Preston Ellard Forthun is standing trial alongside Abdisalan Abdulahab Hussein and Carlos Patricio Luna, two men he allegedly used as “runners” to recruit and pay car accident victims to visit his Comprehensive Rehabilitation clinics in Minneapolis.

All three are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, plus additional individual federal fraud charges in an alleged plot to take advantage of Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law, which mandates minimum coverage of $20,000 for medical expense benefits and other financial losses regardless of fault in an accident. Federal prosecutors indicted 21 people late last year and added charges against five more last month. Of that total, 10 have so far pleaded guilty.

Forthun is accused of submitting claims and receiving reimbursements for services not needed or never provided.

Many patients received identical treatments regardless of their injuries in a ploy to maximize patient visits to both cover kickback expenses and to exhaust available “no-fault” benefits. Minnesota’s no-fault law forbids health care providers from initiating contact with anyone injured in a car accident — including the use of runners.

Forthun and fellow chiropractor Darryl Humenny — who pleaded guilty in the same case and is now expected to testify — allegedly paid Hussein and Luna up to $1,500 per patient they recruited to visit each clinic. Both Hussein, a former patient who was paid to visit Comprehensive Rehab, and Luna were often not paid until patients attended a certain number of treatments. In most cases, prosecutors say, the runners were told to use most of the money for cash kickbacks to patients to keep them “happy and attending appointments.”

Humenny is expected to testify that “more than 90 percent” of Comprehensive Rehab’s customers were the result of runners or direct payments from the chiropractors.

Forthun allegedly tried to conceal kickbacks to runners through either cash payments or making checks out to “cash” with false memo lines suggesting that the money was for “transportation” or “marketing.” According to court filings, Forthun and Humenny allegedly wrote more than 400 such checks for at least $500,000 from 2011 through 2015.

 

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