Harrisburg Ambulance Company Fined $250,000; Owner Sentenced To 2 Years Prison And $300,000 Fine For Medicare Fraud
HARRISBURG-The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that the owner of a Harrisburg-based ambulance company has been sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $494,378 in restitution and fines.
Serge Sivchuk, age 30, the owner of Advantage Medical Transport, Inc, formerly headquartered at 733 Fire House Lane, Harrisburg, was sentenced by US District Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Connor yesterday to the two year term and ordered to pay $194,378 restitution to Medicare. Judge Connor also fined Sivchuk $300,000.
Judge Connor also ordered Advantage to pay $194,378 restitution to Medicare (jointly and severally with Sivchuk), and further ordered the company to pay an additional $250,000 fine.
According to US Attorney Peter Smith, Sivchuk and Advantage were indicted in January 2012 by a Middle District of Pennsylvania grand jury and charged with multiple counts of false statements in health care matters and health care fraud. The charges stemmed from Advantage’s non-emergency, ambulance transport of Harrisburg area dialysis patients between 2009 and 2011. The Indictment alleged Sivchuk defrauded Medicare by submitting hundreds of claims for the nonemergency transport of Medicare beneficiaries because the patients were ambulatory and their ambulance transports were not medically necessary.
Sivchuk pleaded guilty to one count of false statements in health care matters on February 22, 2013; Advantage pleaded guilty to 14 counts of False Statements in Health Care Matters less than 3 months later on May 1, 2013. The Indictment focused on an August 2010 audit and a June 2, 2011 search of Advantage’s business premises by federal law enforcement officers. In response to the audit Sivchuk provided Medicare dozens of ambulance Trip Sheets, which are prepared by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) at the time of each ambulance transport. The Trip Sheets contain a narrative section that describes the patient’s physical condition and ability to ambulate,. The Trips Sheets serve as the primary support document for each Medicare billed, ambulance transport claim. The June 2, 2011, search by the FBI revealed Sivchuk did not submit the original trip sheets to the auditors but instead submitted copies of other trip sheets that had been re-written and forged to conceal the fact the beneficiaries were ambulatory.
Medicare paid Advantage approximately $166 for each leg of a transport to and from a dialysis treatment center, plus $5.49 per mile. Many dialysis patients underwent 3 treatments per week. Thus, one week’s transport of just one dialysis patient yielded Advantage more than $1,000.
At the time the investigators executed the June 2, 2011, search warrant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil action in federal court that froze more than $875,000 in Sivchuk controlled bank accounts. The government intends to recoup the restitution and fines imposed by Judge Connor today from these frozen bank accounts.
The case is part of a priority program within the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania focusing on health care fraud. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kim Douglas Daniel and Anthony Scicchitano, and was investigated by the Harrisburg Offices of the HHS Inspector General’s Office and the FBI.
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