A Long Island chiropractor, who federal prosecutors said stole millions from Medicare, pleaded guilty Wednesday to health care fraud and obstructing a federal audit.
Melvin Cwibeker, 60, owner of Mel Cwibeker D.C. in Woodmere, admitted to submitting fraudulent Medicare claims between January 2006 and March 2012. He also admitted to hiring employees to create fictitious patient records.
"Yes, I did it voluntarily and I knew it was wrong," he told U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip.DataLI crime stats
Cwibeker also agreed to pay restitution and a $500,000 forfeiture. Cwibeker, who has been free on $1 million bond since his 2012 arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6.
Federal prosecutors said Cwibeker and his three co-conspirators fraudulently billed Medicare more than $7 million over the six years for treatments residents at adult homes and assisted living facilities in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester never received
In one day alone -- New Year's Eve in 2006 -- Cwibeker, of Cedarhurst, billed Medicare for "chiropractic treatments he purportedly gave to 133 patients" at several assisted living facilities, federal prosectors said.
Cwibeker alone received $4.5 million during the six years he fraudulently billed Medicare, according to acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie.
"The $4.5 million Mr. Cwibeker got from Medicare, he never should have gotten," Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly told Seybert.
In his guilty plea, Cwibeker admitted in court to receiving more than $100,000 from Medicare between 2010 and 2011.
Cwibeker's attorney, John G. Martin of Great Neck, disputed the amount of fraudulent Medicare payments that federal prosecutors said his client received. In an interview, he said his client received "substantially less than a million" from Medicare.
"We think that he provided proper care to thousands of patients and the actual loss to Medicare was substantially less than what the government is alleging," Martin said.
He was charged in October 2012 with conspiring to commit health care fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
He was also charged with obstructing the federal audit because he created and submitted fictitious medical records after federal officials informed him in 2010 of the audit, an indictment said.
Prosecutors said Cwibeker trained the chiropractors he hired -- Richard Hurwitz, 45, of Long Beach; Shimon Metz, 45, of West Hempstead; and Mark Samuel, 55, of Mamaroneck -- "not to provide the patient care that was required under Medicare."
In one instance, Cwibeker told them: "You have two hands, you can treat two people at once," according to Kelly.
In 2013, Hurwitz, Metz and Samuel pleaded guilty to health care fraud.