UPDATE | One of two dockworkers plead guilty to a federal felony count of defrauding a medical plan of the longshoreman’s union, of which they were members, out of $225,000 for chiropractic services that were either not necessary or not provided.
Downey resident Sergio Amador, 50, plead guilty to a single count of mail fraud and will be sentenced on December 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. Meanwhile, co-defendant David Gomez is awaiting trial next month on 20 counts of mail fraud, facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count.
The men were arrested last December without incident by federal authorities and initially plead not guilty at arraignments held that Monday afternoon.
Amador and Gomez were members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 13, which represents dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and offers members benefits, including health care through the Pacific Maritime Association Welfare Plan.
According to the DOJ, the men opened a clinic in Long Beach in 2009 under the name “Port Medical,” purporting to provide chiropractic services. Shortly after, they opened another clinic under the same name in San Pedro, in addition to creating medical management companies to use the funds generated by the medical clinics.
The indictment states that such funds were used to pay the workers and to directly incentivize those on the Welfare Plan to use Port Medical’s services, including cash payments and sports team sponsorships. In all, Port Medical received $225,000 from the Welfare Plan, which used forged signatures and other methods to falsely indicate Welfare Plan members had received chiropractic services.
The indictment also alleges Port Medical encouraged members of the Welfare Plan to seek massages, heat and ice treatments when not medically necessary.
This indictment was a product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.