L.A.-Area Physician Assistant Pleads Guilty in Medicare Fraud Cases
LOS ANGELES – A physician assistant pleaded guilty today to defrauding Medicare by signing fraudulent prescriptions for durable medical equipment while working at two Los Angeles-area medical clinics.
Erasmus Kotey, 77, of Montebello, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Judge Morrow is scheduled to sentence Kotey on September 8, at which time he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, Kotey was a physician assistant who worked at Los Angeles County medical clinics. 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.
(The scheme involving the clinic on North Vermont Avenue also involved Susanna Artsruni, a North Hollywood woman who has pleaded guilty and admitted she caused $25 million in fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2014/002.html.)
In addition, Kotey engaged in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud from approximately April 2008 through December 2008, through his work at a clinic at 943 South Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park.
At both clinics, Kotey signed prescriptions and other medical documents for medically unnecessary diagnostic tests, power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment (DME). Co-conspirators then sold the prescriptions, knowing that the prescriptions were fraudulent. Based on these fraudulent prescriptions, the testing facilities and DME supply companies then submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.
In the two cases combined, fraudulent prescriptions from Kotey were responsible for approximately $7 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid approximately $3.5 million on those claims.
The cases against Kotey are the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and IRS - Criminal Investigation.
The cases were 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.
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.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
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