Clinic owner convicted in auto insurance scheme

Published On: Oct 07 2013 10:56:50 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A jury convicted a 46-year-old man Friday for his involvement in a Jacksonville insurance fraud scheme.

David Lopez was convicted of schemes to defraud more than $50,000, false insurance claims of more than $100,000, and knowingly participating in an intentional motor vehicle crash.

The investigation revealed that Lopez was the behind-the-scenes owner of Indian Rehabilitation Center Inc. IRCI was a licensed massage therapy clinic that operated at 3636 University Blvd. from March through October 2012. The investigation discovered that IRCI bilked insurance companies in excess of $228,000.

The clinic was the mechanism to provide bogus treatment to staged accident participants for nonexistent injuries. Lopez's henchmen recruited individuals to stage the accidents and then get treatment at the clinic. Lopez is one of more than 30 people whom the state attorney's office has prosecuted in this case. More prosecutions are pending.

On March 14, 2012, Lopez and four others were involved in a staged accident in Duval County. Lopez later filed a personal injury protection claim through IRCI. The clinic received $35,000 for treatment allegedly provided to Lopez and the other vehicle occupants.

The investigation revealed that Lopez also arranged for a straw owner of the clinic, directed how to fraudulently operate the clinic, controlled IRCI's bank accounts, and directed others as to which insurance companies to target.

In October 2012, the state attorney's office and Florida's Division of Insurance Fraud shut down the clinic and obtained an arrest warrant for Lopez. After a nearly six-month search, investigators found Lopez hiding at a remote fish farm outside of Tampa.

DIF Detective Dwight Murphy and Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro investigated IRCI. Lopez faces 45 years in prison and will be sentenced Nov. 22.