L.A. dockworker gets a year in prison for union healthcare bilking scheme

Shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach are stacked on the dock while others are loaded by cranes.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A Downey man who pleaded guilty to criminal mail fraud charges as part of a scheme to bilk a union healthcare plan out of more than $200,000 has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

Sergio Amador, a former dockworker and member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles. The ILWU represents dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Amador and another then-ILWU member, David Gomez, opened medical and chiropractic clinics in San Pedro and Long Beach under the name Port Medical. They encouraged union members to frequent the clinics by paying them incentives, including cash and sponsorships of basketball and softball teams, federal prosecutors said.


The clinics encouraged workers to get unnecessary massages and chiropractic treatments, and submitted falsified documents to the union healthcare plan, indicating not only that treatments were necessary but also that patients visited more often than they actually did, according to an indictment filed in late 2015.

Amador pleaded guilty in 2016 to one count of mail fraud.

Gomez was convicted by a jury in 2016 on 20 counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced in 2017 to more than three years in federal prison.

In addition to the prison time, the two men were ordered to pay a total $201,000 in restitution to the healthcare plan run by the union and shipping trade group Pacific Maritime Assn.

Prosecutors said that the clinics submitted at least $258,913 in fraudulent bills to the union healthcare plan and that the plan paid out at least $228,440.

The case against Gomez and Amador was the result of an investigation by the Department of Labor and the FBI.