Man sentenced to 77 months for Medicare fraud

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A Los Angeles-area man was sentenced this week to 77 months in prison for organizing and leading a medical clinic fraud scheme that used the stolen identities of physicians to submit more than $18.9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

Eduard Aslanyan, 38, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., also was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $10.8 million in restitution.

Aslanyan pleaded guilty in April 2011. He admitted that between March 2007 and September 2008, he established a series of fraudulent medical clinics in and around Los Angeles to defraud Medicare. Carolyn Vasquez, who previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with Aslanyan to defraud Medicare, recruited physicians to serve as the medical directors of Aslanyan’s fraudulent medical clinics. The physicians did not perform services at the clinics and were rarely at the clinics. Physician assistants were hired by Aslanyan and Vasquez and were complicit in the fraud scheme at the clinics.

According to court documents, Aslanyan hired patient recruiters to find Medicare beneficiaries who were willing to provide the recruiters with their Medicare billing information in exchange for expensive, high-end power wheelchairs and other medical equipment. The Medicare beneficiaries often did not have a legitimate medical need for the equipment. The patient recruiters then provided the beneficiaries’ Medicare billing information to Aslanyan or brought the beneficiaries to Aslanyan’s clinics. Aslanyan paid the patient recruiters cash kickbacks.

In court documents, Aslanyan admitted that he and Vasquez instructed and paid physician assistants who worked at his clinics to prescribe medically unnecessary power wheelchairs, medical equipment and diagnostic tests for the Medicare beneficiaries. The physician assistants used stolen identities of physicians who did not supervise them or work at the clinics.

According to court documents, Aslanyan profited from the scheme at his fraudulent medical clinics in several ways. Aslanyan admitted that he allowed fraudulent diagnostic testing facilities to use the Medicare billing information he purchased from patient recruiters to submit false claims to Medicare for tests ordered at the clinics. In exchange, the fraudulent diagnostic testing facilities paid Aslanyan cash kickbacks that were disguised as rent payments to Aslanyan.

Aslanyan also profited from the scheme by selling fraudulent prescriptions and documents generated at his clinics to owners and operators of fraudulent durable medical equipment (DME) supply companies, which used the prescriptions and documents to submit false claims to Medicare. Aslanyan also used the fraudulent prescriptions and documents to submit false claims to Medicare through his own fraudulent DME supply companies.