Couple's home, offices searched in investigation of lawyer, wife

March 29, 1995|By Michael Ollove | Michael Ollove,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Marcia Myers contributed to this article.

Federal authorities raided a downtown medical clinic yesterday and hauled away dozens of boxes in what sources say is an investigation into possible insurance fraud.

Search warrants covered the offices and home of Fred Kolodner, a disbarred lawyer already suspected by the state of practicing law without a license, and his wife, Deborah, who in December was convicted in New Jersey of practicing medicine without a license.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m., investigators with the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service, assisted by state and city police, arrived at Industrial Medical and Physical Therapy Clinic, operated by Mrs. Kolodner in the 500 block of St. Paul Place. For at least four hours, they pored over records and carried out boxes of files.

They also executed warrants at two other Baltimore locations, including the offices of lawyer Burton M. Greenstein, where Mr. Kolodner works. The third site was Mr. and Mrs. Kolodner's Canton home.

Neither Mrs. Kolodner, 39, who was present during the search at the medical center, nor Mr. Kolodner, 70, could be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Greenstein said, "I'm shocked but I'm getting legal counsel, and he's advised me not to talk about it at this point."

Officials with the U.S. attorney's office, which the Maryland State Police said directed the raids, refused to comment. Affidavits supporting the search warrants are sealed.

Someone close to the investigation, however, said authorities are looking into the possibility that the clinic documented nonexistent injuries to collect insurance settlements.

The clinic, which has operated for at least two years, advertises its specialty as "accident cases." It provides examinations and physical therapy to people who have been involved in accidents and are filing insurance claims. The clinic boasts that it helps patients get the "Best Settlements in Area."

The raids came two months after the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission launched its own investigation of Mr. Kolodner, who was disbarred in 1991 for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from clients. In January, the commission filed a complaint against Mr. Kolodner, charging that he was practicing law without a license under the auspices of Mr. Greenstein, a longtime Baltimore lawyer.

In that complaint, the commission said that Mr. Kolodner was negotiating insurance settlements on behalf of accident victims and referring those clients to Mrs. Kolodner's clinic for physical therapy.

One of those clients, Valerie Witherspoon, told The Sun earlier this year that she and her son, who were involved in a traffic accident, started receiving physical therapy at the clinic before a doctor had examined them. They continued to receive treatments -- the application of hot or cold packs to injured areas -- long after the pain was gone.

She also said that Mr. Kolodner represented himself to her as a lawyer.

In December, Mrs. Kolodner was convicted in New Jersey of practicing medicine without a license in a medical clinic that she briefly operated in Pleasantville. She was sentenced to 18 months' probation for that offense.

An identical charge against Mr. Kolodner was dismissed.

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