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Former Opunake physio sentenced for ACC fraud

Former Opunake physio sentenced after ACC fraud prosecution

A former Opunake physiotherapist has been sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court today to 60 hours community work after earlier admitting 20 charges of making a false statement to ACC for pecuniary gain.

38-year-old Gary James Palmer had pleaded guilty to charges which arose from invoicing ACC for 11 treatments that had never taken place and for invoicing for more time than he actually spent treating 22 claimants on 196 occasions.

The court had been advised the amount fraudulently claimed in respect of these charges was $4,432.09. The Corporation has also imposed penalties totalling more than $13,000 under ACC legislation.

After ACC had become aware of Palmer’s billing practices, ACC fraud investigators randomly contacted 32 claimants who had received physiotherapy treatment from Palmer during the period January 2003 to April 2004.

22 claimants had alleged they had been treated for less than an hour and four claimants also stated they had not received as many treatments as Palmer had invoiced ACC for.

The head of ACC’s fraud teams, Ernst Le Roux, says provider fraud convictions had a devastating effect on the lives of health professionals, however invoicing for treatments was dependent on the treatment provider’s honesty and integrity.

“Most providers are honest and highly ethical in their claiming of ACC funding for their patients,” Mr Le Roux said, “but we are now putting on notice the very few who choose to fraudulently claim levy payers money that they will be caught, and prosecuted.”

ENDS

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