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Schemes Let Lawyers Sidestep Ambulance Chasing

Why chase after ambulances when you can just wait around the hospital for them to arrive? That appears to be the thinking of personal-injury lawyers in two states who are alleged to have purchased hospital records to find clients and beef up recoveries.

First came the Miami lawyer we reported on in August (A New Low in Ambulance Chasing) who was said to be under investigation for his role in a scheme to buy stolen hospital records and use them to solicit clients. At the time of that report, the FBI had charged that another man, Ruben E. Rodriguez, paid $1,000 a month to a technician at a Miami hospital to obtain the records of injury victims. Rodriguez then sold the information to the lawyer.

Now come similar allegations out of New York, where Newsday reports that a Bethpage lawyer, William Hamel, was charged with bribery this week in an insurance fraud scheme involving patient records purchased from employees in New York City's public hospitals. N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo charged that Hamel, a lawyer with the Manhattan firm Dinkes & Schwitzer, used the information to lure patients into receiving unnecessary treatment and then submitted more than $1 million in phony insurance claims.

Meanwhile, there was more news this week in the Miami case. Maria Victoria Suarez, a cosmetician who is the wife of Ruben Rodriguez, was added to the indictment against her husband and was scheduled to appear in court to be arraigned. The hospital technician who sold the records has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, the Miami Herald reports. Authorities have yet to identify the lawyer allegedly involved in the scheme.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 25, 2009 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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