News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: June 3, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Arrest of Salinas Chiropractor in Connection with Workers' Comp Fraud
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today the arrest of a Salinas chiropractor. Robert Ray Schreiner, 57, was charged with 16 felony counts, including conspiring to deny injured workers their workers' compensation benefits, filing fraudulent insurance claims and making false statements to an insurer. Schreiner surrendered to authorities on May 28.
"Workers' comp insurance should protect workers who are injured on the job. Anyone who tries to dissuade injured workers from seeking the care they need will face severe consequences," said Commissioner Poizner.
In October 2006, two Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation employees contacted the Monterey County District Attorney's office to complain that workers were being discouraged from filing workers' compensation claims for injuries sustained at the Salinas plant by two Smurfit Stone managers. Smurfit-Stone is a manufacturer of paperboard and paper-based packaging and is an international corporation headquartered in Chicago. The Salinas plant employs about 120 persons.
The complaints stated that Smurfit-Stone Managers David Lawrence Polk, 53, and Douglas Minoru Tateoka, 61, drove injured workers to the "company doctor," Eugene Guzman, 61, who was actually a physician assistant at Pinnacle Health Care on Blanco Road in Salinas.
On October 31, 2007, Monterey County District Attorney investigators and California Department of Insurance investigators served search warrants at the Smurfit-Stone Salinas plant and Pinnacle Health Care in Salinas on Blanco Road and arrested Polk, Tateoka and Guzman.
Schreiner, a chiropractor and owner of California Chiropractic Center and Golden State Physical Therapy, allegedly treated at least six Smurfit-Stone employees who reported to him they were injured at work. Schreiner purportedly attempted to convince them their injuries were from non-work-related activities such as life-long bad posture or from childhood activities like riding bicycles or playing football. Schreiner allegedly insisted that the injured workers needed up to 45 "corrective care" treatments. He allegedly told workers that Smurfit-Stone would pay for the initial visits and their private health insurance would pay for the remaining visits. The injured workers were required to pay for deductibles and co-payments for treatments that should have been processed through workers' compensation at no out-of-pocket cost to the workers. In addition, Schreiner allegedly billed private health insurance for claims that should have been processed through workers' compensation.
Schreiner was also purportedly advertising a business called Golden State Physical Therapy without being licensed as or employing a physical therapist. Part of Schreiner's alleged motivation to participate in the scheme was an arrangement with Polk to send workers to Schreiner for these treatments and for pre-employment evaluations and to establish "wellness" programs for pay at the Smurfit-Stone plant.
Employers are required to report all workers injured on the job that involves medical treatment beyond first aid or lost time from work. Employers are also required to provide notice to the injured worker of their entitled benefits within one working day of knowledge of the injury. Medical providers are required to report all occupational injuries, including treatment for "first aid", within five days to the employer's insurance company or third party administrator and to the Department of Industrial Relations.
The Monterey County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this case.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Nearly 2,800 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by CDI since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other three year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
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