A dozen lawyers and chiropractors arrested on suspicion of participating in a workers' compensation scam appeared in court Thursday and were released after being told prosecutors have not filed criminal charges against them.
The men were given a February date to return to court, but the chief prosecutor in the case said it is doubtful his office will finish examining thousands of seized documents and be ready to file charges that soon.
The suspects were arrested two weeks ago during 26 simultaneous raids at their homes and offices throughout Ventura County. Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury said at the time that the arrests followed a yearlong undercover investigation by Ventura County prosecutors and state and national insurance investigators.
The suspects are accused of participating in a scam that includes double- and triple-billing insurers for single treatments and "buying" patient referrals with fees that often are billed back to the insurance companies--an illegal process known as capping.
Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. John L. Geb said his office is not ready to file criminal charges because searches of the suspects' offices netted volumes of material that must be studied to determine the extent of the criminal activity.
Although prosecutors had enough evidence against the men to file charges at the time of the arrests, the new information makes it prudent to wait, Geb said.
The investigation involved two district attorney's investigators who set themselves up in a Thousand Oaks office for almost a year, posing as a referral service that offered to steer workers' compensation claimants to doctors and lawyers for a fee.