A Twin Cities psychologist is going to prison for falsely collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for counseling services he did not provide.
Charles Howard Jorenby, 58, of Chanhassen, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to two years in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to felony health care fraud for a billing scheme that spanned more than seven years.
As part of his guilty plea, Jorenby admitted to an additional fraudulent claim to State Farm Insurance in 2017 following a fire at his business, Life Dynamics Inc. in Prior Lake. Jorenby said he inflated his lost-income claim to include earnings associated with his fraudulent billings, totaling an additional $104,930.
Judge Susan Richard Nelson's sentence also included an order that he repay the Mdewakanton Sioux the $819,000 he stole from the band and the full amount he illegally collected from State Farm.
Ahead of sentencing, prosecutors argued in a court filing for Jorenby to be sent to prison for anywhere from 2 1⁄2 to slightly more than three years.
"For many years, he prioritized his family's material comfort and security over the integrity of his professional licensure," the filing noted, "and he appears to have paid no thought to either the individual Native American people whose identities he used or the broader Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community whose funds he stole."
In a counter-filing before sentencing, defense attorney Christa Groshek proposed probation and no prison time. Groshek cited, among other things, the State Board of Psychology revoking Jorenby's license to practice for at least 10 years because of the fraud and his willingness to take responsibility.
In his own words to the court, Jorenby wrote, "I sincerely apologize to the members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Through my actions, this community (which has suffered at the hands of others for over 150 years) was again taken advantage of. I reinforced the stereotype that white people can't be trusted."
According to court documents:
From January 2013 through February 2020, Jorenby defrauded Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which self-funded the account that the insurer draws from in order to process health care claims for tribal members.
Jorenby submitted bills to the health care insurer for services for at least 29 tribal members. In reality, he used their names and dates of birth without their knowledge to collect payment from the Sioux band.
The scheme was sniffed out when Blue Cross Blue Shield detected some unusually high billing amounts. A review revealed "that on some dates he claimed to be providing in-person counseling services to clients, he was also posting on his public Facebook account showing himself on vacation out of state," one prosecution document read.