Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri Delivers Keynote Address at the 40th International Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Three owners of independent diagnostic testing facilities in Brooklyn, New York, were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their roles in an allegedly fraudulent scheme that involved submitting over $44 million in claims to Medicare and private insurers, which included government-sponsored managed care organizations.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) New York Office and Special Agent in Charge Scott Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations made the announcement.
Tea Kaganovich, 45, and Ramazi Mitaishvili, 57, both of Brooklyn, were the co-owners of Sophisticated Imaging, East Coast Diagnostics, East Shore Diagnostics, East West Management and RM Global. Syora Iskanderova aka Samira Sanders, 42, also of Brooklyn, was the owner of Global Testing, Liberty Mobile Imaging, Liberty Mobile Testing, Med Tech Services and Scanwell Diagnostics. The three defendants were each charged with one count of health care fraud, two counts of making false claims to a federal agency, one count of conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks, two counts of paying health care kickbacks and four counts of money laundering. Kaganovich and Mitaishvili were also charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the lawful functions of the IRS. Iskanderova was also charged with two counts of making false statements to federal agents. The indictment was filed on Nov. 22 and unsealed upon the arrest of the defendants this morning. Defendants Kaganovich and Mitaishvili are expected to make an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold of the Eastern District of New York at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Defendant Iskanderova is expected to make an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres of the Southern District of Florida at the federal courthouse in Miami. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie.
According to the indictment, beginning in approximately January 2014 and continuing through at least December 2016, Kaganovich, Mitaishvili and Iskanderova executed a scheme in which they submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid managed care plans and other health care benefit programs for diagnostic testing services. As part of the scheme, the defendants allegedly paid kickbacks for the referral of beneficiaries who submitted themselves to diagnostic testing and other purported medical services. The indictment also alleges that the beneficiaries themselves received kickbacks as part of the scheme. The defendants allegedly submitted and caused to be submitted claims to Medicare, Medicaid managed care plans and other health care benefit programs for services that misrepresented which diagnostic testing company purportedly performed the services. The indictment further alleges that the defendants disguised their illicit payments by moving the proceeds of this illegal activity through shell companies and engaged in financial transactions greater than $10,000 involving the proceeds of unlawful activity. Kaganovich and Mitaishviliare are alleged to have falsely reported to the IRS that the illegal payments made to co-conspirators were legitimate business expenses, which caused relevant tax forms to falsely under-report business income and claim deductions. In addition, the indictment alleges that Iskanderova, on two separate occasions, lied to federal agents about her role in the alleged fraud scheme.
As alleged in the indictment, the defendants submitted and caused to be submitted at least $44 million in claims to Medicare, Medicaid managed care plans and other health care benefit programs for diagnostic testing services and were paid at least $19 million on those claims.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI, IRS-CI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Trial Attorneys Debra Jaroslawicz and Richard Powers of the Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.