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Chiropractor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud, Tax Evasion

October 10, 2012
By TYLER REYNARD - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Chiropractor Joseph J. Yurigan pleaded guilty Tuesday to allegations he fraudulently billed insurance companies for medical procedures that were never performed and evaded paying taxes on more than $800,000 he earned in one year from his two local offices.

Yurigan, 62, of New Alexandria, Pa., is the owner and operator of the Weirton Chiropractic Clinic and the Wheeling Spine Center. He entered guilty pleas Tuesday to one count each of health care fraud and tax evasion in U.S. District Court before Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr.

According to the terms of a plea agreement, Yurigan will be sentenced to one year and six months in prison on each count. Those sentences will be served concurrently, however, for an effective prison term of one year six months.

Yurigan must also pay approximately $836,000 in restitution. Slightly more than $500,000 of that amount is due prior to a sentencing hearing before Stamp, which has not yet been scheduled. The judge may also order Yurigan to be placed on a term of supervised release following completion of his prison sentence and impose a fine.

Yurigan remains free on bond while awaiting sentencing.

The charges to which Yurigan pleaded guilty Tuesday carry a combined maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and six years of supervised release, as well as a $350,000 fine.

Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Special Agent Tim Larrison said the agency launched an investigation into Yurigan's practices after receiving a complaint that the doctor was not returning one of his employees to work. Two agents visited Yurigan's office under pseudonyms more than 65 times throughout the investigation, complaining of false symptoms and subsequently receiving treatment, Larrison said.

On July 1, 2009, an agent received massage therapy at Yurigan's Wheeling office, Larrison said. Yurigan's office billed and received compensation for performing five procedures, however, including electrical stimulation and an ultrasound, Larrison said.

Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Jason Somerville on Tuesday testified that Yurigan earned approximately $815,000 between his two offices in 2008. Investigators determined Yurigan owed $76,500 in taxes on that income but paid none, Somerville said.

A federal grand jury indicted Yurigan in August 2011 on 33 counts of health care fraud, four counts of tax evasion and one count of interfering with the administration of IRS laws.

According to federal court documents, Yurigan evaded paying $322,690 in taxes from 2005-08. He was also accused of drawing cash payments from both of his medical offices, co-mingling his personal and business finances in the same bank account and destroying business records, documents state.

Yurigan's Wheeling office closed following his indictment, but his attorney, David Jividen, on Tuesday said the chiropractor has continued to practice in Weirton throughout the course of the case.

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