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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 24, 2014

L.A.-Area Medical Professional Sentenced To 3 Years In Federal Prison For Role In Scheme To Bilk Medicare Out Of $7 Million

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles physician’s assistant was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare out of millions of dollars by signing fraudulent prescriptions and other medical documents for durable medical equipment (DME) while working at two separate medical clinics in the Los Angeles area.

Erasmus Kotey, 78, of Montebello, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. In addition to the 36-month prison term, Judge Morrow ordered Kotey to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution to the Medicare program.

Kotey pleaded guilty in March to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in two separate cases. In a plea agreement filed earlier this year in United States District Court, Kotey admitted that he engaged in a scheme to commit health care fraud while working as a physician’s assistant at a clinic  located at 866 North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. (A co-conspirator in this scheme was Susanna Artsruni, a North Hollywood woman who was sentenced to over 6 years in prison for causing $25 million in fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2014/043.html).

In addition to his role in the scheme at the clinic on North Vermont, Kotey admitted that he engaged in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud through his work as a physician’s assistant at a clinic at 943 South Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park.

At both clinics, Kotey signed prescriptions and other medical documents for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other DME. Using these fraudulent prescriptions, DME supply companies submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Kotey also ordered medically unnecessary diagnostic testing at the North Vermont clinic.

In the two cases combined, Kotey’s fraudulent prescriptions resulted in approximately $7 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare. Medicare paid approximately $3.5 million on those claims.

Kotey remains free on bond and has been ordered to self-surrender in August 2015 after completing a course of medical treatment.

The cases against Kotey are the product of investigations 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. 

Release No. 14-154

Updated June 22, 2015