An Alabama-based chiropractor, who was accused in a scheme to conduct fraudulent physical examinations on prospective long-haul truckers and submit false documents to federal transportation regulators, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison.
Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins of the Middle District of Alabama sentenced Dr. Kenneth G. Edwards, of Columbus, Georgia, to 37 months on Thursday, The Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Watkins said the 65-year-old physician, who practiced in Phenix City, had abused the trust placed in him by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The offense netted Edwards about $224,000.
U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. said the doctor was willing to risk putting physically unqualified individuals behind the wheels of large commercial vehicles to make a few easy dollars.
“Our region’s roadways became more dangerous as a result of Dr. Edwards’ greed,” Franklin said in a news release. “It is my hope that Dr. Edwards’ case will send a message to other health care providers who might take shortcuts like the ones that led Dr. Edwards to spending 37 months in federal prison. My office will not tolerate the placing of profit over the well-being of society.”
Edwards was registered with the USDOT to conduct physical exams on people seeking commercial driver’s licenses. Anyone who holds a CDL is required to undergo a thorough physical examination at least every two years. The regulations ensure that commercial drivers are physically capable of operating 18-wheel tractor trailers without putting motorists at risk.
Edwards didn’t examine applicants who came to him for USDOT required physicals. He collected cash payments from the applicants and signed forms indicating that the applicants were physically capable of driving commercial vehicles. Some applicants were certified without ever getting a partial physical. Office staff, in many instances, was allowed to conduct physical examinations and stamp the doctor’s signature on the USDOT forms.
Conditions that would have disqualified an applicant from obtaining a CDL were not reported by Edwards. On one occasion, Edwards reported that an applicant had 20/20 vision in both eyes but one of the applicant’s eyes was a prosthetic.
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