UPDATE: Despite having been charged with running a medical card mill more than six months ago, Anthony Lefteris still holds a Georgia chiropractic license. The state's Board of Chiropractic Examiners hasn't taken any steps toward suspending or revoking it. The Secretary of State's Office will inform the board of the guilty plea, then let the board decide how to handle the information, according to Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
A 72-year-old chiropractor has pleaded guilty to a fraud scheme that may have given scores of unfit drivers clearance to operate tractor trailers, buses and other large vehicles on U.S. roadways.
Anthony Lefteris, known as "Dr. Tony," operated out of the Petrol Stopping Center on Hollowell Parkway at I-285 in Atlanta, selling drivers medical certificates without performing the required examinations. He has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of falsifying documents and to entering false information into the records of the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release from the Atlanta U.S. Attorney's office.
It's known in the industry as running a medical card mill, and word often spreads quickly among truck drivers throughout the country who might otherwise flunk their exams. Click here to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's previous coverage of the case.
To obtain commercial driver licenses, drivers are supposed to pass medical fitness tests to determine if they have lung diseases so severe or blood pressure so high that they may not be able to control their vehicles safely. The exams also screen for drug addictions, vision and hearing loss, and insulin-dependent diabetes.
"Dr. Lefteris was entrusted to examine commercial vehicle drivers to make certain that they were physically fit to drive safely," Atlanta-based U. S. Attorney John Horn said in a written statement. "Instead, he failed to perform the required examinations and falsified the results of his tests, ultimately making our roads less safe for the rest of us."
It's unclear if any of the thousands of drivers who bought Lefteris' fake cards went on to cause crashes or wreak other havoc on U.S. roads.
Before his arrest, Lefteris conducted an average of 360 medical exams a month, according to the federal criminal complaint, while the typical medical examiner completes only about 14. Court records indicate that drivers may have been certified without exams since early 2015.
Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it would work with state drivers license offices throughout the country to identify some 6,600 drivers, revoking the licenses of any drivers certified by the chiropractor over the past two years unless they underwent new physicals.
From today's Department of Justice news release:
Some of the procedures he failed to perform were required vision and hearing examinations, and urinalyses. He then completed USDOT medical examination forms for drivers he examined on which he falsely included figures and information representing the results for procedures he did not perform.
Lefteris also issued USDOT Medical Examiner’s Certificates to drivers certifying them as physically fit to drive even though he did not conduct a complete examination. Lefteris subsequently transmitted his results to the USDOT, fraudulently certifying that the medical examinations were conducted in accordance with federal regulations. In return, the drivers paid him cash, sometimes $65 per certification.
In September 2016, (the DOT's Office of Inspector General) initiated an undercover operation during which agents posed as drivers in need of DOT medical certificates. In exchange for cash payments, undercover agents obtained documents from Lefteris indicating that proper medical examinations had been performed when they had not.
Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 28 before U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May.