Two Los Angeles Pharmacy Owners Found Guilty in Multimillion-Dollar Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
A federal jury found two Los Angeles pharmacy owners guilty yesterday for their participation in a $35 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme to bill Medicare for medications that were never provided and to launder the proceeds of the fraud.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Timothy DeFrancesca of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office, Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of IRS Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Kurt Mueller of the California Department of Justice made the announcement.
After an 11-day trial, Aleksandr Suris, 51, and Maxim Sverdlov, 44, both of Sherman Oaks, California, were found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Suris was also found guilty of one additional count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six additional counts of health care fraud. Both defendants were found not guilty of three counts of healthcare fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 18, 2019, before U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2012 to 2015, Suris and Sverdlov fraudulently billed Medicare and CIGNA for prescription medications that were not actually dispensed to beneficiaries by the pharmacy they owned, Royal Care Pharmacy (Royal Care). In order to hide the fraud, Suris and Sverdlov obtained fake invoices from a co-conspirator to make it appear as if Royal Care had purchased the medicines it had billed Medicare for when it had not. The evidence further established that Suris and Sverdlov also used these fake invoices to launder the proceeds of the fraud through the co-conspirator.
This case was investigated by the HHS-OIG, FBI, IRS-CI, and the California Department of Justice, and was 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. Assistant Chief Daniel J. Griffin and Trial Attorney Robyn N. Pullio 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, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.