Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 26, 2015. The former owner of a Los Angeles-based medical supply company was sentenced today to seven years in prison for his role in a fraud scheme that resulted in $3.3 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Assistant Director in Charge David L. Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Hakop Gambaryan, 55, of East Hollywood, California, was convicted following a jury trial on March 20, 2015, of four counts of health care fraud. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II of the Central District of California ordered Gambaryan to pay $1,740,009 in restitution.
At trial, the evidence showed that Gambaryan, the former owner of a durable medical equipment supply company, fraudulently billed more than $3 million to Medicare for durable medical equipment, such as expensive power wheel chairs, that was not medically necessary. Medicare paid approximately $1.7 million on those fraudulent claims.
The evidence demonstrated that between March 2006 and December 2012, Gambaryan paid cash kickbacks to medical clinics for fraudulent prescriptions for durable medical equipment, which the patients did not need. Gambaryan then used these prescriptions to bill Medicare for the unnecessary equipment.
According to evidence presented at trial, Gambaryan personally delivered power wheelchairs to many beneficiaries who were able to walk without assistance. In one instance, Gambaryan carried a power wheelchair up a flight of stairs for a woman who lived in a second floor apartment with no elevator. In another instance, the power wheelchair would not fit inside the beneficiary’s home, so Gambaryan put it in the beneficiary’s garage.
The evidence also demonstrated that Gambaryan generated false documentation to support the fraudulent claims, including fake home assessments when no home assessments actually occurred. In addition, Gambaryan photocopied beneficiaries’ signatures hundreds of times to create the appearance that the beneficiaries consented to ongoing equipment rentals, when they did not. Indeed, at least two of the beneficiaries had passed away prior to the date they supposedly signed the rental agreements.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Fred Medick and Ritesh Srivastava of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.