By Edwin Folven, 10/11/2012
Eighteen Los Angeles-area residents — including three doctors and one physical therapist — have been charged in six local cases for their roles in schemes to submit more than $65 million in false billing to Medicare.
The charges were part of a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven cities that led to charges against 91 individuals for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit nearly $430 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
“Medicare fraud is a national problem that has a very local dimension, impacting patients, health care providers and taxpayers in every part of the nation,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said. “Here in Southern California, we will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to crack down on the unscrupulous profiteers who threaten the integrity of our health care industry, as well as the well-being of its patients and practitioners.”
According to court documents, four people affiliated with the Los Angeles-based Alpha Ambulance, Inc. were charged with submitting more than $49 million in false claims to Medicare between 2008 and 2012. According to the indictment, Alpha’s owners — Alex Kapri, 55, of Hollywood Hills, and Aleksey Muratov, 31, of Burbank — along with employees Wesley Kingsbury, 33, of Bloomington, and Danielle Medina, 35, of Corona, submitted claims for medically unnecessary transportation services and then created fake documentation to support those claims. All four have been arrested.
“The FBI is committed to addressing criminal activity in the healthcare system that drains the Medicare Program of billions each year, a cost borne by taxpayers in the end,” said Timothy Delaney, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
In three other cases, individuals associated with four durable medical equipment (DME) companies in the Los Angeles area — Bonfee Medical Supplies, Ibon Inc., Fendih Medical Supplies Inc. and Las Tunas Medical Equipment, Inc. – were charged with submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare. In another case, one defendant self-surrendered on charges related to fraudulent Medicare billing for physical therapy claims.
The defendants charged face a variety of criminal offenses, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, a charge that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.