Thief River Falls chiropractor sentenced for insurance fraud

FSA Court gavel 11-13-18

A Thief River Falls chiropractor who was paid $1.1 million from false insurance claims was sentenced Tuesday for wire fraud and will spend just over two years in prison. Seven related charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Steven Richard Wiseth, 36, falsely billed insurance companies after hosting events, such as “ValenSpine’s Day,” at his Thief River Falls clinic, Health Quest Family Chiropractic, according to a federal indictment. From March 2013 to April 2015, he billed insurance companies more than $3.1 million worth of claims and was paid $1.1 million, court documents said.

Wiseth, who opened Health Quest in the early 2010s, would host promotional events where he would give away free food, drink, prizes and gift certificates to prompt current and prospective clients to visit the office. Charges said Wiseth would then bill the insurance companies for services not provided to guests during the events.

During his Feb. 13, 2014, “ValenSpine’s Day” event, Wiseth reported to insurers that he provided 641 services to 219 patients during the day, court documents said.

He held a grand opening event in March 2013, when the business moved locations and billed health insurers for 592 services that he claimed were performed on 178 patients.


Widseth routinely billed for a treatment with a “wobble chair,” which is a device intended to develop core strength. Widseth claimed he’d spent at least eight minutes with clients individually working on the “wobble chair,” but court documents revealed he placed them in waiting rooms so patients would sit in them while waiting for appointments.

Investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service led to federal charges.

Widseth opened a Grand Forks location in 2014, but it is not mentioned in the indictment.

Four charges of wire fraud and two charges of aggravated identity theft were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Each wire fraud charge holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The sentencing guidelines for Widseth said it would be appropriate to sentence him to 27 to 33 months imprisonment on the first count of wire fraud because of his otherwise clean criminal record and a reduction agreed to during the plea agreement. He was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in prison.

Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, of the Minneapolis U.S. District Court, said Widseth’s fraud was “part of his routine business practice.”

After Widseth serves his sentence, he will be on supervised release for a year. He’s also ordered to pay $337,195 in restitution and the plea agreement calls for him to forfeit anything purchased from money traceable to the charges.

He is ordered to start serving his sentence by July 22.

Tess covers crime and courts for the Grand Forks Herald. She previously worked for the Associated Press, Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World-Herald and The Voice News. Reach her at (701) 780-1267, or on Twitter @ByTessWilliams.
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