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Former Pennsylvania Prison Doctor Sentenced for Fraud; Accomplices Convicted

The former medical director of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County Prison (LCP) was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to numerous schemes to defraud the government.

Dennis Erik Fluck Von Kiel was employed as LCP’s medical director from March 1989 until August 2013. He was working for private contractor PrimeCare Medical, Inc. at the time of his termination.

On January 12, 2015, Von Kiel pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, five counts of failure to file tax returns, one count of wire fraud and aiding and abetting wire fraud, one count of perjury in a bankruptcy proceeding, one count of financial aid fraud and aiding and abetting financial aid fraud, and two counts of mail fraud.

Beginning in 2001, Von Kiel had engaged in a series of illegal schemes designed to help him evade creditors, including those for federal student loans. He proclaimed to be under a “vow of poverty” and a “minister” of a church called the International Academy of Lymphology. He claimed he had no taxable income, as his employer deposited his payroll checks into bank accounts for the church.

Von Kiel also lied at a bankruptcy proceeding, filed a fraudulent claim for Social Security benefits by claiming he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and lied on federal Pell grant applications that enabled his children to receive $36,000 for their college educations.

On April 20, 2015, having pleaded guilty to 17 charges, Von Kiel was sentenced to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $555,537 in restitution plus a $1,325 special assessment and forfeit $165,988. He had been held without bond since his February 2014 arrest.

An accomplice, Robert Wray of Torey, Utah, was sentenced in October 2015 to four years in federal prison on charges related to schemes in which he helped Von Kiel evade medical school student loans and federal income tax. [See: PLN, Feb. 2016, p.63].

Wray had been convicted on conspiracy, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud and failure to appear charges. Central to those charges were assertions by the prosecution that he had aided Von Kiel in avoiding federal income tax by establishing bank accounts under the auspices of the tax-exempt “church,” the International Academy of Lymphology. Wray would wire money deposited into the church’s accounts to Von Kiel, minus his fee.

In January 2016 a second doctor, Frederick Douglas Burton, was arrested by FBI agents at his Philadelphia-area home as an accomplice in Von Kiel’s fraudulent Social Security scheme.

Charged with mail fraud, Burton had allegedly written two letters indicating that Von Kiel was a patient under his care who suffered from debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder. The letters were used in Von Kiel’s attempt to fraudulently obtain Social Security disability benefits. According to prosecutors, Burton was a longtime friend of Von Kiel’s; he was not a psychiatrist nor did he hold any specialized mental health training.

In August 2016, Burton was convicted of mail fraud and attempted mail fraud; he is scheduled to be sentenced in December.  


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