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Press Release

Los Angeles Doctor to Pay $9.5 Million to Resolve Allegations of Fraud Against Medicare and Medi-Cal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced today that Minas Kochumian M.D., a physician previously practicing in the Los Angeles area, has paid $9,486,287 to resolve allegations that he submitted false claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for procedures and tests that were never performed. These payments include nearly $5.5 million paid by Kochumian as criminal restitution following his guilty plea to one count of health care fraud, in a separate criminal case filed in the Central District of California.

The civil settlement resolves contentions by the United States and the State of California that Kochumian, over a period of more than six years ending in April 2018, submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for procedures, services, and tests that were never conducted or administered to patients, including injections of medication designed to treat osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, drainage of tailbone cysts, and the removal and destruction of various growths. As part of the settlement agreement announced today, Kochumian admitted that he intentionally submitted false claims for payment with the intent to deceive the United States and California. In doing so, Kochumian violated both the federal False Claims Act and the California False Claims Act. Those statutes allow the government to recover damages and penalties for the presentation of false claims for payment to the United States and the State of California, respectively.

The civil settlement with Kochumian resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed by relators Elize Oganesyan and Damon Davies, Kochumian’s former medical assistant and former informational technology consultant, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery. The whistleblowers who filed the case against Kochumian will receive more than $1.75 million as their share of the recovery announced today. The whistleblowers’ claims for attorneys’ fees are not resolved by this settlement.

“Investigating allegations of health care fraud is an important priority for the United States Attorney’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “My office will continue to work closely with our federal and state partners to protect our publicly funded health care programs from the type of egregious fraud and abuse that occurred in this case.” 

“When doctors misuse the state's Medi-Cal funds, they violate their Hippocratic Oath by harming a program which exists to help California’s Medi-Cal population, including the elderly, the sick and the vulnerable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Dr. Kochumian’s alleged misconduct violated the trust of the patients in his care, and he selfishly pocketed funds that would otherwise have gone towards critical publicly funded healthcare services. My office is committed to ensuring honest care is provided to those that seek it through the Medi-Cal program. Today’s settlement sends a message: Deceitful actions that jeopardize state funds and prey on Medi-Cal recipients will not be tolerated. I applaud the important contribution of the two whistleblowers who alerted law enforcement to Dr. Kochumian’s unlawful actions.”

“Providers who exploit their status as medical professionals for financial gain undermine patient trust and waste valuable taxpayer dollars,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven Ryan, of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “HHS-OIG remains committed to working tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to protect federal health care programs from fraud.”

The civil settlement was the result of an investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The civil lawsuit is captioned United States and State of California ex rel. Elize Oganesyan and Damon Davies v. Minas Kochumian, et al., Case No. 2:17-cv-2236 KJM JDP, and the parallel criminal case, which was filed in the Central District of California, is captioned United States v. Minas Kochumian, M.D., Case No. 2:20-CR-00423 (RGK).

Updated June 10, 2022

Topics
False Claims Act