Two doctors are among nine Los Angeles-area residents facing federal charges for their alleged roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of about $66 million, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
Dr. Joseph R. Altamirano, 56, who ran a clinic at 5300 Santa Monica Boulevard, is accused of causing almost $23 million in losses to Medicare through fraudulent billing and referrals for medical equipment, including more than 1,000 expensive power wheelchairs and home health services that were not medically necessary and often not provided, according to the DOJ.
A request for comment left with the doctor’s office was not immediately answered.
From January 2005 through last May, recruiters associated with the clinic traveled throughout the Southland looking for Medicare beneficiaries so that Altamirano could write “medically unnecessary” prescriptions for medical supplies and home health services, the DOJ alleges.
At the clinic, Altamirano’s associates allegedly provided beneficiaries with blood draws and ultrasounds they didn’t actually need, as well as toenail trimmings and foot massages, according to federal prosecutors.
At times, prosecutors contend, Altamirano briefly met with beneficiaries, but did not examine them, before submitting fraudulent claims for services not provided.
The second doctor, Robert A. Glazer, 57, of North Hollywood, allegedly conspired with others to bilk Medicare for services that were not medically necessary, and at times were not provided to the Medicare beneficiaries, according to a revised 2014 indictment.
Glazer’s office number is disconnected.
In addition, Glazer signed prescriptions, certifications and other medical documents for medically unnecessary home health services, hospice services, power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment, prosecutors allege.
Glazer’s alleged co-conspirators then sold the prescriptions and certifications to medical supply companies, home health agencies and other providers, knowing the prescriptions and certifications were fraudulent, prosecutors said.
Based on these fraudulent prescriptions and certifications, the medical supply companies, home health agencies, and other providers then allegedly submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to the DOJ.
As further alleged in court documents, Glazer and co-conspirators were responsible for about $33 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, which paid about $22 million on those claims.
The charges were part of a nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in 17 regions of the country, resulting in charges against 243 people, including 46 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving roughly $712 million in false billings.
The defendants are charged with various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The remaining defendants are:
— Artavazd Pashyan, 62, of Sunland, charged in a criminal complaint;
— Angela Pogosov Avetisyan, charged in a second superseding indictment;
— Ashot Minasyan, 57, of North Hollywood, charged in a second superseding indictment;
— Marina Merino, 58, of Los Angeles, charged in a second superseding indictment;
— Oxana Loutseiko, 54, of Granada Hills, charged in an indictment;
— Maria Espinoza, 45, of Los Angeles, charged in an indictment; and
— Susan Nimo, 55, of Los Angeles, charged in a criminal complaint.