A St. Paul personal injury attorney was sentenced Tuesday to 16 months in federal prison for defrauding auto insurance companies with fake injuries from car accidents.
Brad Ratgen, 52, admitted in November that between 2015 and 2021 he paid runners to recruit clients who were victims of car accidents who would seek treatment from chiropractors who participated in the program.
Ratgen demanded $59,483 in fraudulent payments and ended up with $22,748, according to federal prosecutors.
The Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau notified Ratgen in July 2021 that he was the target of an undercover investigation. Still, Ratgen continued to negotiate with State Farm on behalf of the recruited client, reaching a settlement of $3,500 months later.
U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen told Ratgen on Tuesday that she was “struck by the determined approach you took to commit the crime,” even after being questioned and other defendants being charged. “It still hasn’t clicked for you to stop.”
Prosecutors indicted Ratgen in October and he pleaded guilty a month later to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, a felony. The prosecution and defense agreed that a sentence of six to 12 months in prison was appropriate, but Ericksen decided on 16 months, matching the sentence imposed in 2020 on another lawyer, William Kyle Sutor, who made the same thing.
Several chiropractors have also been convicted.
“Ratgen played a vital role in the fraud scheme targeting Minnesota auto insurance policies. Ultimately, Minnesotans end up paying more for auto insurance policies as a result of fraudulent schemes like the one Ratgen participated in,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Jacobs wrote in a memo to the court.
Defense attorney Kevin Rich said Ratgen stipulated the disbarment, ending a law career focused on immigrant clients in and around St. Paul’s Midway. Rich asked the judge to consider home confinement instead of jail, which would have allowed Ratgen to continue caring for a 20-year-old son with Down syndrome and a autism.
“Mr. Ratgen is a kind and generous person who has accepted responsibility for his poor judgment, and a sentence of house arrest would allow him to support his family and care for his adult son with special needs while in atoning for his criminal conduct,” Rich wrote to the court.
Ratgen is due in jail on June 20. His sentence includes a year of supervised release, a $10,000 fine and $22,748 in compensation to four insurers.