Scheme Involved Exaggerating Injuries To Win Higher Settlements

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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It was called "Operation Running Man."

Bridgeport attorney Joseph P. Haddad was one of the prime targets of the 14-month-long FBI investigation. Although the apparent mastermind, he wasn't the one literally doing the running. Instead, federal authorities said it was Haddad who hired "runners" to find clients for his personal injury practice.

That, in itself, is against the law. Haddad tried to hide this practice by paying the runners in cash, prosecutors said.

But that was only the tip of the iceberg of his transgressions. Federal authorities said Haddad was at the center of a lucrative conspiracy involving car insurance fraud that cost more than 10 insurance carriers a total of about $2.5 million.

On Jan. 3, the 65-year-old lawyer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, before Judge Stefan Underhill. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28.

Haddad faces up to 20 years in prison on each count and a fine of up to $3.5 million. He has already agreed to pay restitution of $1,758,368.

Haddad has additional problems. Karyl Carrasquilla, Connecticut's Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, said after Haddad is sentenced in March, her office will file a presentment against him. Carrasquilla said it's too soon for her to say what sort of sanctions the office will be seeking. "Sounds like it was a pretty sophisticated PI scam ring that he was a major player in," Carrasquilla said.

That analysis is supported by court documents and testimony from co-conspirators. Both indicate that Haddad, who also had an office in Trumbull, conspired with chiropractors and others to defraud several insurance companies by exaggerating the car accident injuries of clients, and the cost of their medical care, to justify larger settlements with the insurance companies.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Haddad was involved in the scheme between 2006 and 2010. His accomplices included Francisco Carbone, who had been licensed to practice medicine until his license was revoked by the state in 2005, and with Dr. Marc Kirshner, who owned and operated two chiropractor offices in Bridgeport and one in Stamford.

Carbone, Kirshner, three other chiropractors and a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from this scheme. All are scheduled to be sentenced.

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