The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 11, 2008

Brent Detelich to spend 3 years in prison for chiropractic billing fraud

HERMITAGE — It is, perhaps, rare that a federal judge sits in awe of a person the judge has just sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti, Pittsburgh, said she was impressed with the ability of Brent J. Detelich to help people turn their lives around, as he had done his own.

“You are, in many ways, extremely remarkable as a person,” Judge Conti told Detelich. “You have a lot of good qualities. Look at what you’ve done to help people with their lives.”

But, the judge said, the strong, charismatic personality that Detelich has used as a force for good, can easily be turned to manipulate people to their detriment.

“I am so troubled ... by that other side of your personality,” she said.

Detelich, 38, of Clearwater Fla., formerly of Hermitage and Clark, was convicted by a jury 13 months ago of health care fraud and mail fraud for billing Highmark Inc. for services never rendered to patients.

While Detelich has made no public statements on the case, his attorney Robert J. Ridge of Thorp Reed & Armstrong, Pittsburgh, said Detelich has admitted all along that he was guilty of some of the wrongdoing alleged by the government.

Detelich’s beef has been with the indictment.

Ridge noted that the government abandoned two prongs of the three-prong scheme alleged in the indictment, and he has maintained all along that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Pittsburgh, waited too long to get an indictment, violating the five-year statute of limitations on the charges.

The jury and Judge Conti disagreed.

While recognizing Detelich’s transformation from a substance abusing party boy and less-than-stellar father and husband to a devoted family man, compassionate friend and model citizen, Judge Conti said evidence of Detelich manipulating others has been documented as late as 2005, long after family members and friends said he had turned his life around.

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