Suspect in bribe case is free but must return to court

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A National City man who is charged with paying bribes for medical patients’ referrals has posted $25,000 bond and has a hearing set for Dec. 7.

Juan Estrada Garcia, 32, was freed from the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Nov. 24, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jan Adler.

He is accused of paying $5,000 in cash twice to an unnamed chiropractor in order to get patient referrals for selling hot/cold therapy units. Garcia is charged with conspiracy, 11 counts of honest services mail fraud, and three counts of using cell phones in interstate commerce with a chiropractor for patients’ names.

Hot/cold therapy units were described as packs used for swelling and injuries which were continuously circulated through tubes and pads attached to patients.

Garcia and four other medical health professionals were arrested Nov. 11 and the charges were discussed in a press conference by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Offices in Chula Vista, National City, San Diego, and elsewhere were searched.

Duffy said the scheme involved $25 million in improper claims for medical services and devices which were then billed to the California Workers’ Compensation insurance program.

Duffy said the bribes in the form of cash payments were delivered in envelopes, or inside newspapers. She said one bribe of $6,000 in cash was inside a gift bag left at a restaurant for a chiropractor.

Suspect in bribe case is free but must return to court