In another massive law enforcement action targeting health care fraud, federal authorities announced recently criminal cases naming a total of 33 defendants – including doctors, pharmacists and an attorney – who have been charged in a wide-range of schemes that collectively attempted to bilk public and private insurance programs out of more than $660 million.
The defendants charged locally are among hundreds of people charged across the United States in cases that cumulatively allege approximately $2 billion in false billings. The nationwide sweep includes charges against 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals who allegedly participated in health care fraud schemes.
The department of Justice recently issued a lengthy press release detailing numerous arrests of interest as well as two local pharmacists.
Armen Pogossian, 69, of Pasadena, the owner of L.A. Nova Pharmacy, was indicted for his role in the submission of $2.9 million in claims to Medicare Part D sponsors for prescription drugs that were never dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries; indeed, they were never even ordered from a wholesaler. The five-count indictment alleges that Pogossian attempted to conceal the fraudulent claims from auditors through the use of fake invoices that purported to show the drugs had been obtained from wholesalers and thus were in the pharmacy’s inventory. This case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and is being prosecuted by Department of Justice Trial Attorney Alexis Gregorian.
Tamar Tatarian, 37, of Pasadena, the owner of Akhtamar Pharmacy, was named in a three-count indictment that alleges she participated in a scheme that submitted $1.3 million in claims to Medicare Part D sponsors for prescription drugs that were never ordered from wholesalers, and thus never dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries, which Tatarian attempted to conceal from auditors through the use of fake invoices. This case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and is being prosecuted by Department of Justice Trial Attorney Alexis Gregorian.
“Health care fraud schemes cost Americans billions of dollars every year through higher premiums and tax money stolen from public programs, such as Medicare,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison. “There is an incredible array of scams, some of which involve services that are simply never provided, and some of which use complicated and sophisticated ruses to conceal illegal acts, such as bribes. The latest announcement of the far-reaching law enforcement actions targeting a wide range of schemes and a large number of defendants demonstrates the excellent work by Pasadena law enforcement partners. Together, they will continue the hard work necessary to identify and hold accountable corrupt health care professionals and fraudsters seeking to line their pockets with your hard-earned money.”
“Health care fraud occurs quietly and behind the scenes on a regular basis in Southern California, which makes detecting it very challenging,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The charges we’ve brought in Los Angeles against physicians and pharmacists are particularly disturbing since these individuals are placed in a position of trust by victims simply trying to navigate a complicated insurance system. A great deal of investigative ability went into each one of these cases, and I’m proud that the work of our agents and law enforcement partners will ebb the flow of the destructive fraud that plagues Southern California.”