Two Los Angeles Pharmacy Owners Sentenced for Multimillion-Dollar Scheme that Billed Medicare, Cigna $11.8 Million in Fraudulent Medication Claims
Two owners and operators of a Los Angeles pharmacy were both sentenced today to 144 months in prison for their roles in a health care fraud scheme where Medicare and CIGNA were billed more than $11.8 million in fraudulent claims for prescription drugs.
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 Kris Lyle of the California Department of Justice made the announcement.
Aleksandr Suris, 51, of Sherman Oaks, California, was sentenced to 144 months in prison by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California, who also ordered Suris to pay restitution of $11,826,444.65 to Medicare and $17,109.39 to CIGNA. The court ordered Suris to make an immediate partial restitution payment of $500,000. Maxim Sverdlov, 45, also of Sherman Oaks, was sentenced to 144 months in prison by Judge Otero, who ordered him to pay $11,826,444.65 in restitution to Medicare. The court ordered Sverdlov to make an immediate partial restitution payment of $500,000.
On Aug. 20, 2019, after an 11-day trial, a jury found Suris guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, six counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury found Sverdlov guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Suris and Sverdlov were the co-owners and co-operators of Royal Care Pharmacy (Royal Care) in Hollywood. According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2012 to 2015, Suris and Sverdlov fraudulently billed Medicare and CIGNA for prescription medications that Royal Care did not actually purchase or dispense to beneficiaries. In order to hide the fraud, Suris and Sverdlov obtained fake drug invoices from co-conspirators to make it appear as if Royal Care had purchased the medicines for which it had billed Medicare and CIGNA, when it actually had not. Suris and Sverdlov also used these fake invoices to launder the proceeds of the fraud through a co-conspirator. In total, Suris and Sverdlov submitted more than $11.8 million in bogus claims to Medicare for prescription drugs that they never purchased or dispensed to patients.
This case was investigated by HHS-OIG, the 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. Trial Attorney Robyn N. Pullio and Assistant Chief Daniel J. Griffin of the Fraud Section prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 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.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.