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What happened to this therapist who was convicted of insurance fraud


November 17, 2020   by Greg Meckbach


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An Ajax, Ont. woman who billed claimants and insurers for therapy services that were never performed has lost her bid to appeal her criminal convictions to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 2008, a motor vehicle accident victim went to a clinic run by Jenny Tran for back pain treatment. The patient paid $65 cash and did not return to the clinic. But the patient received invoices from her insurer, Green Shield, indicating the patient received further treatments at Tran’s clinic. The total wrongfully billed was $6,236.70.

Tran sued that patient in small claims court and lost.

As a result of a 70-day criminal fraud trial, Tran was found guilty of attempting to obstruct justice by filing a false statement of claim. She was also convicted of six other charges.

Tran, who was providing osteopathy, massage and acupuncture services, had been charged in 2014 with eight criminal counts. As a result of a 70-day trial, from Sept 2014 through Jan 2015, Justice Kelly Wright sentenced Tran to 14 months in jail.

The Supreme Court of Canada announced Oct. 22 it will not hear an appeal from Tran of her criminal convictions.

Those convictions had been upheld in R. v. Tran, a unanimous ruling released Nov. 22, 2019 by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

“This was an extremely difficult trial to conduct and keep on track. The trial judge did everything reasonably possible to accommodate the appellant’s seemingly endless demands,” the appeal court wrote in upholding Tran’s convictions.

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At one point, Justice Wright said that nearly every single request Tran had made during the trial had been addressed and accommodated. The only requests the judge could think of that were denied were a highlighter, French fries and coffee.

Among Tran’s seven criminal convictions are defrauding Great West Life of more than $5,000. One claimant testified he received about 12 to 15 acupuncture and massage treatments from Tran, while his wife received about five massages. After the man and his wife stopped seeing Tran, the man received a reimbursement cheque from Great West for treatment he never received. He returned that cheque to Great West. The couple also received a letter from a collection agency, in 2009, saying they owed Tran more than $16,000.

Justice Wright found that Tran received at least $11,101.50 in payments from Great West for treatments Tran did not perform for the couple.

Tran was found not guilty of defrauding Great West Life Assurance in excess of $5.000.

But she was found guilty of:

  • Defrauding Manulife Financial Assurance in excess of $5,000;
  • Attempt to defraud Green Shield of Canada in excess of $5,000;
  • Defrauding the public of a service of a value under $5,000;
  • Defrauding the public of a service of a value under $5,000;
  • Forging health care claim forms; and
  • Uttering a forged document in relation to Great West Life.

An investigator with Great West concluded that Tran was not qualified to provide the paramedical services for which she received payment in 2008.

At her trial, an official with the Ontario College of Massage Therapy testified that Tran has never been a member that professional college.

Tran did not deny that she has never been a registered member of the Ontario College of Massage Therapy. She testified that she is a member of a Quebec organization called the “Massologists and Practitioners in Massage Association of Canada”. Tran argued that this is a federal organization, and her membership in that organization supersedes membership to the Ontario College of Massage Therapy. But Justice wright disagreed.

Justice Wright also rejected Tran’s argument that the Town of Ajax’s zoning bylaws authorized her to perform massage therapy.

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Tran acknowledges that she knew the difference between massage therapy and massage treatment or services.  She claims to have only been providing the latter. But Justice Wright noted that Tran had a self-inking stamp at her clinic which said “Massage Therapy,” with her name and a registration number on it. The number is from her massologist certificate. Justice Wright found that, by using her massologist registration number in conjunction with the words “massage therapy” on the stamp, “is a clear demonstration of the lengths she was prepared to go to in order to deceive the public.”

Justice Wright also found that Tran set out to deliberately mislead the public into believing that she was a qualified and registered naturopathic doctor. Tran placed a Yellow Pages ad indicating she was a “Registered Naturopath.” Her ad was just one advertisement space away from the information for the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy and Naturopathy.

“I appreciate that Ms. Tran refers to her clinic as a natural health clinic and the advertisement does not include the word naturopathy. However, in my view, this is simply a distinction without difference. Ms. Tran had full control over the placement of the advertisement. This shows that Ms. Tran deliberately tried to deceive members of the public whom were seeking qualified naturopathic treatment,” wrote Justice Wright.

Tran contested the criminal charges and testified on her own behalf. Justice Wright did not place any weight on Tran’s evidence, finding it was replete with inconsistencies. For example, Tran initially said she would do all the handwriting on the contracts and attendance sheets at her clinic while the patient waited because she did not have a computer at the clinic. But later she testified that she had a desktop computer and a laptop computer that she used to generate claim forms and other documents at the clinic.

She initially said, under cross-examination, that she did not believe her clinic had advertised in the Yellow Pages.  But when confronted with the actual advertisements, she gave a detailed account of her conversations with the Yellow Pages management about the placement of the advertisements, Justice Wright wrote in her 2015 ruling.

 

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