A Los Angeles physician assistant pleaded guilty today to defrauding Medicare by signing fraudulent prescriptions for durable medical equipment while working at two separate medical clinics in California.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Assistant Director in Charge Bill L. Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Erasmus Kotey, 77, of Montebello, Calif., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow in the Central District of California to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2014.
According to court documents, Kotey was a physician assistant who worked at medical clinics in and around Los Angeles County. From approximately November 2007 through February 2008, Kotey engaged in a scheme to commit health care fraud through his work at a clinic located at 866 North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. In addition, from approximately April 2008 through December 2008, Kotey engaged in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud through his work at a clinic located at 943 South Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 218, in Monterey Park, Calif.
At both clinics, Kotey signed prescriptions and other medical documents for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment (DME). Kotey and his co-conspirators then sold the prescriptions to DME supply companies, knowing that the prescriptions were fraudulent. Based on these fraudulent prescriptions, the DME supply companies then submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Combined, the two indictments allege that fraudulent prescriptions from Kotey were responsible for approximately $7 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid approximately $3 million on those claims.
The cases were investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and the IRS and brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Fred Medick of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen Williams and Cathy Ostiller of the Central District of California.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .