A 57-year-old former Orange County chiropractor was sentenced Thursday to more than 5 years in federal prison for defrauding health insurers out of around $2.2 million as part of a scheme that lasted more than three years.
Nearly a year after she was convicted of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, among other charges, Susan Poon was sentenced to five years and 10 months behind bars.
According to prosecutors, Poon submitted false reimbursement claims to several health insurance providers that included false diagnoses and claims of services that were not actually performed, as well as fraudulent prescriptions containing fake diagnoses of dependents of Costco and United Parcel Service employees.
To facilitate the fraud, prosecutors said Poon stole the personal identification information of her victims by attending health fairs at various UPS and Costco locations and soliciting the info from employees.
In a sentencing brief filed with the court, prosecutors described a scheme involving “interdependent moving parts” in which Poon “lied about visits with, diagnosis of, and treatments given to actual people and their children.”
During her sentencing hearing, Poon told US District Judge David O. Carter that she was “sincerely sorry” for her mistakes and promised that “for the future I will lead with a moral compass in my soul.” Poon spoke of her family history – which included parents who immigrated to New York with nothing and established a successful restaurant – to her own work helping the hungry and homeless.
“There is not one day since this incident that I am not truly sorry,” Poon told the judge. “I mentally punish myself daily.”
Poon’s attorney, Ronald Richards, noted that the Poon has no previous criminal record and since losing her medical license and her Rancho Santa Margarita practice has devoted herself to creating and selling Chinese vegan meals.
Carter acknowledged what he described as Poon’s “extraordinary” family history, and said that prior to the fraud scheme she appeared to live an “exemplary life.” But the judge also noted that the fraud went on for years and required information taken from more than 500 people, including some toddlers.
“You represent a person I intuitively feel has turned a corner,” Carter said. “By the same token, the harm here is extraordinary.”
The judge ultimately decided on a sentence slightly shorter than the seven years and three months requested by prosecutors. He also ordered her to pay more than $1 million in restitution.
City News Service contributed to this report.