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Whistleblower: Fraud charge against ex-chiropractor

  • Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS
  • February 3, 2014 - 11:53 AM

A Cambridge chiropractor and former City Council member was charged last week with fraud under Minnesota’s no-fault insurance laws.

David Schornstein allegedly billed for massages and chiropractic adjustments that he did not perform, according to an investigation by the Commerce Fraud Bureau at the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The investigation of Schornstein was the second in the past year in which the bureau charged someone with violating no-fault insurance laws. In November, the Commerce Department told the Legislature that it planned to make no-fault fraud cases a priority.

The state’s no-fault laws require insurance companies to pay up to $20,000 for medical expenses to people injured in a car accident, regardless of who’s at fault. Critics of the no-fault system say the laws are easily exploited because they are loosely written and poorly enforced. Supporters of the law say it is necessary to provide health care for the uninsured and to avoid costly litigation.

Schornstein is not in custody and could not be reached for comment.

In 2012, he told the Isanti County News that he denied the accusations, which were first described by the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners. “There wasn’t any fraud perpetrated or anything done that was illegal. As far as conduct, and their accusation against myself, I’ve had enough dealing with employees trying to position themselves to gain from this,” he told the newspaper.

According to the complaint filed in Isanti County, Schornstein owned the North Metro Chiropractic Clinic in Cambridge and employed a massage therapist and another chiropractor.

In December 2010, the massage therapist, identified in the complaint as S.E., her husband and two children were in a car accident. They went to Schornstein for treatment after the accident, but investigators say he provided some of that treatment after promising the state he would not work directly with patients.

Schornstein had a history of disciplinary actions with the chiropractic board for abuse of prescribed pain medications and alcohol. In 2011, he was discharged from a state monitoring program after he relapsed, records show.

The chiropractic board then suspended his license, but stayed the suspension if Schornstein refrained from treating patients. He could continue to operate his clinic.

Bills submitted to Kemper Insurance noted that Schornstein had performed treatment, the complaint said. In 2012, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners revoked his license. Last year, he resigned from the Cambridge City Council.

Now he faces criminal charges that accuse him of stealing $8,385 in no-fault benefits by claiming to have provided 58 massages and 19 chiropractic treatments, the complaint said. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison or a maximum fine of $30,000.

Schornstein’s revocation order states that he can petition to get his license reinstated in April 2014, but the board’s executive director, Larry Spicer, said the criminal charges may make it harder to do that.

Spicer said that he was unaware that the Commerce Department had launched a criminal investigation and that he commends the department for taking action. “It’s good to see the department going after these types of cases, which can often be very vexing and complex,” Spicer said.

© 2014 Star Tribune