Ten of 73 people indicted in a huge scheme to bilk taxpayers out of $163 million were indicted this week in Los Angeles, federal authorities said.
The mostly Armenian-American “organized crime” ring that set up fake clinics and sent false Medicare bills to Uncle Sam was based in New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Atlanta and, according to the New York Times, successfully got $35 million from the government.
It was billed by federal authorities as the largest Medicare fraud scheme ever.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles given to the Weekly and other outlets says that the L.A. suspects are ..
… key figures in health care fraud schemes that operated in several states … The Los Angeles cases, which were brought as part of an investigation called “Diagnosis Dollars,” are linked to a nationwide multi-district crackdown on health care fraud.
Actually, say the feds, there were seven suspects charged in L.A. and 24 others indicted elsewhere who are actually L.A. area residents. According to the Los Angeles Times, Davit Mirzoyan is alleged to be an L.A.-area-based ringleader of the national syndicate.
The L.A. wing of this operation opened eight fake clinics and sent bills to taxpayers for Medicare reimbursement — for work that was never done, prosecutors say. The suspects stole the identifies of real doctors and billed the U.S. government under their names, the feds allege.
Twelve search warrants were served in L.A. as part of the case.
The L.A. defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, money laundering, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and criminal forfeiture.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the L.A. area suspects include:
Pogos Satamyan, of Glendale
Vachagan Dishchian, 34, of Van Nuys
Vahe Dischian, 36, of Van Nuys
Andranik Satamyan, 20, of Glendale
Haroutyoun Dischian, 62, of Van Nuys
Nicolae Candu, 24, who is a fugitive and is currently being sought by law enforcement
Vitalina Shcherbyak, 24, who is a fugitive and is currently being sought by law enforcement
Nikolay Agishev, 24, who is a fugitive and is currently being sought by law enforcement
Grisha Sayadyan, 59, of Glendale
Allen Sayadyan, 30, of Glendale
In the L.A. area alone suspects billed $17 million in fake claims and got away with $8 million initially, authorities said.
Defendants in custody were scheduled to be in court Thursday afternoon.
Nationwide, some of the defendants had overseas ties. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grinder said that's a scary thing:
“The emergence of international organized crime in domestic health care fraud schemes signals a dangerous expansion that poses a serious threat to consumers as these syndicates are willing to exploit almost any program, business or individual to earn an illegal profit. The Department of Justice is confronting this evolving threat …”