Florida Clinic Owner and Employees Charged in PIP Case

Posted by on May 20, 2011 | 0 comments

A medical clinic owner in Florida has been arrested on charges of fraud and theft in association with bogus automobile personal injury protection claims.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced that Jean Fritz Petoite, the owner of the Bethel Health & Rehab Clinic, Inc., along with several employees, were arrested for fraudulently billing Direct General Insurance Company for more than $60,000 in personal injury protection claims.

Investigators started looking into the Orlando, Florida-based Bethel Health following a tip from a consumer that the clinic was allegedly fabricating documentation related to her treatment that was submitted to her insurance company.

Two former clinic employees told investigators that Petoite and two employees at the clinic, Oliver Steven Zidor and Myrlene Saint Preux, pressured them to sign and fabricate treatment forms to submit to insurance companies.

Investigators also alleged that Petoite recruited individuals to stage accidents with the promise of receiving $1,000 if they sought treatment at the Bethel Health & Rehab Center. Two individuals involved in one bogus crash, Alejandro Estrada and another woman, were allegedly coached by Patricia Placek on how to defraud the insurance company. Estrada and hs companion are cooperating with investigators.

Petoite and his brother Zidor were arrested last Friday and warrants have been issued for Preux, Placek and Estrada. They all face charges of staging an accident, insurance fraud, grand theft, patient brokering and organizing a scheme to defraud. If convicted, the individuals could face up to two years in jail for staging an accident and up to 30 years in prison for organizing a scheme to defraud insurers.

Atwater praised investigators for their efforts. “These arrests represent the kind of manipulation and fraud that take place in accident clinics throughout the state and drive up auto insurance costs for all Floridians,” he said. “I am committed to cracking down on PIP fraud and putting thieves behind bars.”

The arrests come as the Florida legislature are debating a bill that includes provisions requiring law enforcement officials to list all persons involved in an accident and create civil penalties for fraud, the proceeds of which would be used to fund additional anti-fraud efforts.

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