A prominent San Francisco attorney was recently sentenced to one year of jail time for billing his school district, health insurance company and former law firm fraudulently for $400,000 worth of expenses allegedly incurred by caring for his autistic son.
Details of the Case
Jonathan S. Dickstein (44) and his spouse, Barclay J. Lynn (44) both pleaded guilty to 31 charges of fraud as well as charges for setting up a false company to fraudulently bill the school district for the special education, services and care of their son .
Lynn admitted her guilt in the matter in August and has already begun serving her five years of probation. Dickstein will also serve five years probation in addition to his jail term according to the sentencing by Judge Bruce Chan of the Superior Court.
Dickstein pleaded guilty in October but continued his practice as an attorney and earned $20,000 per month, despite being fired from his former law firm, Morrison and Foerster, where he had previously been a partner. He will now have to forfeit his law license and surrender himself to the authorities by the end of November.
The couple had arranged to have home care for their son through another school district at first. They then transferred to the San Francisco school district. Under the laws of the State, the school districts are required to compensate parents for the home schooling of their disabled children.
According to the law, parents must hire licensed educators to privately develop individual plans for treating their disabled children. Dickstein and his wife hired one such educator but then created their own company called ‘Puzzle Pieces’ which was not licensed to develop education for autistic children. They used the company to over bill and double charge both the insurers and the school district at higher rates. They also charged both parties for the same hours of treatment. They told the insurers that the district refused to pay for the treatment hours.
What is Fraud?
According to Title 18, Part I, Chapter 47 of the United States Code, whoever engages in any conduct with the intent to convey misleading or false information in a situation where such information may be believed and where this information indicates that an activity has taken place or will be taking place, is guilty of fraud.
Punishment varies according to the case and the circumstances surrounding the crime. A typical sentence is maximum 5 years of jail time and paying restitution. If full restitution is paid, in some cases, the prison term will be reduced.