A number of corrupt lawyers and doctors allegedly carried out a sprawling slip-and-fall scheme that netted them $31 million by using poor New Yorkers to file bogus legal claims and even undergo surgeries as part of the ruse, federal authorities said.
The four suspects — two doctors and two attorneys — allegedly convinced some 400 vulnerable people to file lawsuits falsely alleging they had tripped on sidewalk cracks, potholes and cellar doors, prosecutors in Manhattan federal court charged Wednesday.
As the scheme continued for nearly five years from 2013 to 2018, participants began to stage fall accidents at sites in the New York City area, according to the feds.
The so-called “patients,” some of whom were drug addicts or homeless people, would often undergo one or two surgeries after filing the sham suits as evidence of their injuries in the falls.
The patients, including some who were so poor, they would ask for food from the attorneys, were paid up to $1,500 for undergoing the procedures, the feds alleged.
Doctors Andrew Dowd and Sady Ribeiro were charged, along with attorneys George Constantine and Marc Elefant with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, the feds said.
They each face decades in prison if convicted. Attorney information for them was not immediately available.
“In carrying out the scheme, the defendants allegedly preyed upon the most vulnerable members of society. Now, thanks to the FBI, the defendants are in custody and facing federal charges,” US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
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