A former San Francisco law firm partner was sentenced to a year in county jail today for defrauding the San Francisco Unified School District, health insurers and the law firm for special education services for his autistic son. Jonathan Dickstein and his wife Barclay Lynn, both 44, were accused of fraudulently billing the school district, Anthem Blue Cross, and Morrison & Foerster, the law firm where Dickstein was employed between 2006 and 2008. The bills totaled nearly $400,000.
Prosecutors said the couple created a company called Puzzle Pieces in order to get reimbursed for special education services for their son. Under state law, the school district is required to provide services for special needs students, either directly or to reimburse for a third-party provider. Dickstein and Lynn claimed their company was a special education
services provider and billed in its name, but the company was only the two of them and neither were qualified or licensed to provide such services, prosecutors said. They also overbilled and “double dipped,” billing both the school district and insurance companies for the same services.
Dickstein and Lynn were both arrested in August 2010 and charged with 31 counts, including grand theft, forgery and insurance fraud, prosecutors said. Lynn pleaded guilty on Aug. 4 to charges in the case and was sentenced to five years of probation, which can be reduced to three years if full restitution is paid. Then in October, Dickstein pleaded guilty after agreeing to a deal with the court over the objection of prosecutors, who wanted a stiffer sentence.
In court today, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan imposed the one-year county jail term for Dickstein after he agreed to pay about $260,000 of the $389,000 alleged to have been defrauded. He is expected to pay more restitution, the amount of which will be determined when he surrenders on Nov. 30. Chief Assistant District Attorney David Pfeifer said outside of court that prosecutors were disappointed with the judge’s decision and had sought a state prison term as well as full restitution paid with interest before sentencing. “We believe the disposition is too light,” he said.
Pfeifer said the couple “turned their child into a profit center,” and said much of the money was “used to support their lifestyle” rather than spent on the child. Both Garrick Lew, Dickstein’s attorney, and Douglas Rappaport, who represents Lynn, declined to comment on the case outside of court.
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