A Volusia County chiropractor accused of prescribing painkillers and muscle relaxers to patients using another doctor's name pleaded guilty to federal charges in Orlando on Tuesday.
Joseph Wagner, who is prohibited from prescribing controlled substances because he is a chiropractor and not a licensed medical doctor in Florida, was arrested in May when authorities say he was scheduled to fly to the Dominican Republic with a one-way ticket.
Records show Wagner, who operated the Wagner Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic on North Ridgewood Avenue, has been under investigation since 2009, when officials received complaints from insurance companies that he billed for services never rendered.
Investigators learned Wagner was committing insurance fraud and illegally distributing drugs by using the Drug Enforcement Administration number and name of another physician.
In July 2010, one of Wagner's patients overdosed within days of being prescribed painkillers, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety drugs. The patient lived, records show.
Several months later, another one of Wagner's patients was hospitalized after she suffered a seizure because of Xanax withdrawal, records show.
Prosecutors said Wagner submitted inflated bills to public and private healthcare programs, including Medicare. He also submitted claims for services not rendered.
As part of his scheme, Wagner submitted fake billings in the names of other doctors. When those doctors accepted payments from the healthcare companies, they often split the insurance payments with Wagner, prosecutors say.
Wagner was indicted on 95 charges. He pleaded guilty to three counts Tuesday: healthcare fraud, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and transactional money laundering.
He told the court during a brief hearing Tuesday that he was guilty. Wagner will be sentenced Nov. 28.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5735