Big Roundup in SoCal Medicare Frauds

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Twelve Los Angeles residents were arrested Tuesday, including California’s second-largest biller for chiropractics, in a roundup of suspected criminal violators of Medicare laws, federal prosecutors said.
     Seven criminal filings accuse the 12 people and one fugitive of more than $22 million in Medicare fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     They submitted $223 million in fraudulent Medicare claims, prosecutors said.
     The lone doctor arrested was accused of egregious violations.
     According to the U.S. attorney’s statement: “Dr. Houshang Pavehzadeh, of the Sylmar Physician Medical Group, allegedly billed Medicare more than $1.7 million for chiropractic treatments he never performed. During the scheme, which ran from 2005 through 2012, Dr. Pavehzadeh, 40, of Agoura Hills, became the second-largest Medicare biller in California for chiropractic services – even though he was not in the United States when some of the alleged services were performed. In addition to being charged with health care fraud, Pavehzadeh is charged with aggravated identity theft related to Medicare beneficiaries whose information he used to bill Medicare as a part of the scheme. When investigators tried to conduct an audit of Pavehzadeh’s claims, he falsely reported to the Los Angeles Police Department that he had been carjacked and that patient files requested by the auditors had been stolen from his car.”
     Nine defendants affiliated with durable medical equipment companies also were charged. Durable medical equipment generally refers to wheelchairs.
     Charged with health care fraud were Olufunke Fadojutimi, 41, of Carson, a registered nurse; Ayodeji Temitayo Fatunmbi, 41, formerly of Carson, believed to be in Nigeria; and Maritza Velazquez, 40, of Las Vegas. Their charges involve Lutemi Medical Supplies, a durable medical equipment company Fadojutimi owned and where Fatunmbi and Velazquez worked. Fadojutimi and Velazquez were arrested; Fatunmbi is a fugitive.
     Susanna Artsruni, 45, of North Hollywood, and Erasmus Kotey, 76, of
     Montebello, a licensed physician’s assistant, were charged with health care fraud at a medical clinic on Vermont Avenue where they worked. The clinic and Artsruni’s medical equipment company, Midvalley Medical Supply, are charged with defrauding Medicate of more than $525,000.
     Also arrested and charged were owner-operators of three other medical equipment companies: Akinola Afolabi, 53, of Long Beach, owner of Emmanuel Medical Supply, for $2.6 million in Medicare billings; Queen Anieze-Smith, 52, of Encino, and Abdul
     King-Garba, 47, of Westwood, owner- operators of ITC Medical Supply, for more than $1.8 million in Medicare billing.
     Clement Etim Aghedo, 53, of Fontana, owner of Ace Medical Supply, is accused of submitting more than $1.8 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
     Finally, three people associated with ProMed Medical Transportation, a Gardena ambulance company, were arrested and charged: its owner, Yaroslav Proshak, 45, of Valley Village; general manager Sharetta Wallace, 35, of Inglewood; and office manager Sergey Mumjian, 40, of West Hollywood.
     Health care fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.
     Money laundering, which is included in some case, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, aggravated identity theft by 2 years.

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