A Phenix City chiropractor, who was accused in a scheme to conduct fraudulent physical examinations on prospective long haul truckers and submit false documents to the United States Department of Transportation, was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison, U. S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. said.
Dr. Kenneth G. Edwards, 65, of Columbus was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison by Chief U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins who described the crime as serious and that Edwards has abused the trust placed in him by the USDOT to conduct physicals. The offense netted Edwards about $224,000 by fraud.
Franklin said the doctor was willing to risk putting physically unqualified individuals behind the wheels of large commercial vehicles to make a few easy bucks.
“Our region’s roadways became more dangerous as a result of Dr. Edwards’ greed,” Franklin said in a 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.”
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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 thoroughly 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, were 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 to the USDOT. 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.
Agencies taking part in the investigation included U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. It was prosecuted by U.S. attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and Thomas R. Govan Jr.