Three Doctors, A Chiropractor, Three Therapists And Medical Company Owners Arrested In Brooklyn As Part Of National Health Care Fraud Takedown
Alleged Fraudulent Billings in Brooklyn and Queens Exceed $125 Million
Ten individuals, including three doctors, a chiropractor, three licensed physical and occupational therapists and two medical company owners, have been charged for their alleged participation in multiple schemes that fraudulently billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs more than $125 million. The charges filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York are part of a nationwide health care fraud takedown led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which resulted in criminal charges against 412 individuals for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims.
The Brooklyn and Queens cases were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Special Agent in Charge Scott Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), New York Regional Office, James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), and Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen of New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG). The results of the nationwide takedown were announced today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, Inspector General Daniel Levinson of the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), IRS-Criminal Investigations Chief Don Fort, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Deputy Director Kelly P. Mayo of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).
“As alleged, the defendants charged in the Eastern District of New York as part of this national takedown took advantage of programs designed to provide essential healthcare for the elderly and the needy. Doctors, medical professionals and others who defraud Medicare and Medicaid and pay illegal kickbacks to line their pockets at the taxpayers’ expense are on notice that they will be investigated and prosecuted,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General (OPM-OIG), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the New York Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), the New York City Human Resources Administration and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Office of Inspector General, for their assistance in the investigations in this district.
“Bhambhani’s alleged acts of illegally paying for patient referrals and submitting a plethora of false million-dollar claims to Medicare and Medicaid were aimed towards selfish gain,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney Jr. stated. “Crimes of this nature not only stand to compromise government programs created to assist those in need, but also the confidence of those who put great trust in doctors and medical professionals. It goes without saying that to betray this trust is utterly unethical.”
“Being a health care provider in the Medicare and Medicaid programs is a privilege, not a right. When fraudsters rip off scarce taxpayer funds meant to pay for legitimate health care services, they undermine these vital programs and affect the millions of Americans who rely on them,” said Special Agent in Charge Lampert of HHS-OIG. "Our agency, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will continue root out fraudulent schemes and hold criminals accountable in order to protect the integrity of our nation’s federally funded health care system.”
“Healthcare Fraud is not a victimless crime,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Robnett. “We all pay when others swindle the United States overnment. With both law enforcement and financial investigation expertise, our agents are uniquely qualified to assist our law enforcement partners in these cases, by following the money when investigating these allegations.”
“Individuals who commit Medicaid fraud prey on the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and the impacts - fewer health care resources and waste of taxpayer dollars - affect all of us,” said OMIG Inspector General Rosen. “My office will continue to work closely with our partners at the federal and state level to root out fraud and hold wrongdoers fully accountable.”
The schemes charged in the Eastern District of New York, detailed in four indictments and two criminal complaints, are as follows:
Ghanshyam Bhambhani: A criminal complaint charges Ghanshyam Bhambhani, a Queens cardiologist, with violating the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying other physicians for patient referrals to his practice. A search warrant was also executed at his medical office in Ozone Park. According to the complaint, physicians who worked with the doctor covertly recorded him discussing paying for patient referrals. Bhambhani, along with other employees of his practice, submitted over $3.7 million in claims to Medicare Part B, and Bhambhani is listed as the attending physician for over $7.4 million in claims submitted to Medicare Part A. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin Argo and Senior Litigation Counsel Patricia Notopoulos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Bhambani was arrested today and he is expected to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York on July 13, 2017.
United States v. Wael Bakry, et al.: The indictment charges five health care professionals for their role in a wide-ranging health care fraud conspiracy in Brooklyn and Queens that billed the Medicare program approximately $100 million. The defendants—Wael Bakry, a physical therapist, Abraham Demoz, a physician, Victor Genkin, an occupational therapist, Mayura Kanekar, an occupational therapist, and Alexander Khavash, a chiropractor—were charged with conspiring to commit health care and wire fraud and with related tax charges. According to the indictment, the defendants paid illegal kickbacks for the referral of patients to their clinics who, in turn, subjected themselves to purported physical and occupational therapy and other services. This case is being prosecuted by Acting Assistant Chief A. Brendan Stewart and Trial Attorney Richard A. Powers of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Bakry, Demoz, and Kanekar were arrested and arraigned before States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York on July 10, 2017. The case has been assigned to States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
Xiaoliang Zhang: A criminal complaint charges Xiaoliang Zhang, a licensed physician specializing in rehabilitation medicine, with health care fraud for submitting $27 million worth of claims to Medicare and Medicaid for physical therapy services even though such services were not medically necessary, often not provided, and otherwise did not qualify for reimbursement. Search warrants were executed by agents from the FBI and HHS-OIG at two of Zhang's medical clinic locations, which he operated under the name Elmhurst United Medical, P.C. As described in the complaint, Zhang ordered his physical therapists to bill Medicare and Medicaid for administering treatments to patients that were not rendered. This case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Patricia Notopoulos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Zhang was arrested and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York on July 12, 2017.
Svetlana Shargorodskaya: The indictment charges Svetlana Shargorodskaya, the owner of a medical diagnostic testing company, LUVR Diagnostic Services, with health care fraud, false claims, and conspiracy to receive and pay kickbacks. As set forth in the indictment, Shargorodskaya, through LUVR, submitted false claims to various health care benefit programs, including Medicare, and paid patients to receive medically unnecessary services. LUVR fraudulently billed Medicare and insurance companies for more than $13 million in diagnostic testing services. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Debra Jaroslawicz and Richard A. Powers of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Shargorodskaya was arrested and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York on July 12, 2017. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Margo K. Brodie.
Suzanna Meliksetyan: The indictment charges Suzanna Meliksetyan with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and false statements relating to health care matters for her role in a scheme to defraud Healthfirst, a non-profit, New York-based health maintenance organization that administered Medicare Advantage plans and New York Medicaid Managed Care plans for participating members. As described in the indictment, Meliksetyan and others impersonated representatives of approved providers in order to get approval for the submission of fraudulent claims for durable medical equipment. In total, the scheme resulted in the submission of more than $12 million in fraudulent claims and the payment of more than $5 million for those claims. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew Estes of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Meliksetyan was arrested and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland on July 11, 2017. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf.
Vadim Alekseyev: The indictment charges Vadim Alekseyev, who owned and operated a number of shell companies in furtherance of a health care fraud and kickback scheme, with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to obstruct the lawful functions of the Internal Revenue Service. As described in the indictment, Alekseyev and his co-conspirators filled multiple Brooklyn-area clinics, which purported to provide physical and occupational therapy to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, with patients by paying bribes and kickbacks to beneficiaries and to Brooklyn-area ambulance drivers, who provided patients to be subjected to medically unnecessary treatment at the clinics. Through the clinics in which Alekseyev was involved, he and his co-conspirators submitted claims for over $40 million in purported therapy sessions in return for which Medicare and Medicare paid the clinics over $11 million. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sarah Wilson and Richard A. Powers of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
The charges in the indictments and complaints are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
EDNY Docket No. 17-M-604
Staten Island, NY
Dr. Abraham Demoz
EDNY Docket No. 17-CR-353
EDNY Docket No. 17-M-618
Staten Island, NY
EDNY Docket No. 17-CR-358
Montgomery Village, MD
EDNY Docket No. 17-CR-351
EDNY Docket No. 17-CR-336