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Thief River Falls chiropractor accused of defrauding health insurers expected to change plea

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MINNEAPOLIS—A Thief River Falls chiropractor accused of defrauding more than $1 million from insurance companies is expected to change his plea in federal court.

Steven Richard Wiseth, 36, has reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota, according to a letter from his attorney, Peter Wold of Minneapolis. Wiseth, who is charged with six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, is scheduled to appear Jan. 17 in Minneapolis' U.S. District Court for a change of plea hearing in Minneapolis.

He was slated to go to trial Monday, but that has been canceled.

Prosecutors alleged Wiseth billed insurance companies more than $3.1 million in a two-year scheme to scam health insurers through his business, Health Quest Family Chiropractic. The owner billed for "hundreds of treatments that were not provided or were overbilled" from March 2013 through April 2015, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office alleged.

"Wiseth's scheme was dependent on maximizing patient volume at Health Quest, and he held promotional events where he gave away free food and drink, prizes and gift certificates to induce current and prospective patients to visit Health Quest," prosecutors claimed in an indictment.

The charging documents described how Wiseth used promotional events like "ValenSpine's Day" in the scheme, alleging he provided 641 services to 219 patients in one day.

Wiseth also submitted false bills and misrepresented services that were provided to patients, according to the allegations.

"For example, Wiseth routinely submitted false bills for treatment with a 'wobble chair,' which is a device intended to develop core strength," the U.S. Attorney's Office alleged. "Wiseth falsely represented to insurers that the services were performed for at least eight minutes under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional when, in fact, Wiseth merely stocked his clinics' waiting rooms with wobble chairs so that patients would sit in them while waiting for their appointments."

Wiseth founded Health Quest in the early 2010s before announcing in 2014 he would expand his business into Grand Forks. He opened his Grand Forks office at 2860 10th Ave. N. St.

Court documents do not mention charges related to the Grand Forks branch, and no charges were filed in North Dakota's U.S. District Court as of Friday.

Wiseth is the only defendant in the case, according to the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248