Old-Timer Faces 20 Years in Slammer


LOS ANGELES (CN) - A 77-year-old physician assistant faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to signing fraudulent prescriptions for $7 million in wheelchairs and other medical equipment at two L.A.-area clinics.
     Erasmus Kotey, of Montebello, pleaded guilty Monday to health care fraud and conspiracy. Kotey's fraudulent prescriptions for durable medical equipment caused Medicare to be billed for $7 million, and it paid $3.5 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
     It's part of a scheme that also involved Susanna Artsruni of North Hollywood, who has pleaded guilty to submitting $25 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
     The Medicare Fraud Strike Force, formed in 2007 and now operating in nine cities, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have billed Medicare for more than $5.5 billion, the U.S. attorney said in the statement.