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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 16, 2015

HHS OIG Top 10 Most Wanted Sentenced to 57 Months Prison

Contact Person: Jim May (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that Karo Gotti Blkhoyan, a/k/a “Gotti,” age 34, of Glendale, California was sentenced last week in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, for Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering , a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). Senior United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie of Columbia sentenced Blkhoyan to 57 months and three years supervised release. Blkhoyan was fugitive for approximately two years, when was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport attempting to re-enter the country.

Evidence presented established that the conspiracy was a transnational criminal organization that established a “ghost” medical clinic in South Carolina using stolen information from a South Carolina doctor. Members of the conspiracy enrolled the clinic in Medicare, established bank accounts, linked the bank accounts to a fictitious address which was a mailbox store, registered the clinic with the South Carolina Secretary of State, and began to bill Medicare. All together, the “ghost” clinic billed Medicare over 1.1 million dollars, with Medicare paying approximately $350,000 worth of claims. The money that was paid was laundered through Southern Californian banks and shell businesses by members of the conspiracy. During the sentencing hearing, Blkhoyan challenged his role in the conspiracy; however, the Court found that the defendant was a manager/supervisor of the conspiracy which increased his sentencing guidelines. Two other members of the conspiracy have previously pleaded guilty to laundering money. Four members of the conspiracy are currently international fugitives.

United States Attorney, Bill Nettles, stated ““When the rich take things that don’t belong to them they want us to call it fraud. But let’s be clear, it is stealing, it is wrong and against the law. He stole from all of us. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who steal from us. Let there be no doubt about that.”

“Healthcare fraud is undoubtedly a lucrative business, but the business of IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners, is to pursue criminals such as Karo Blkhoyan, and bring them to justice, no matter where they may attempt to hide.” said Thomas J. Holloman, III, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Blkhoyan’s sentence is a warning to others that would defraud Medicare and steal from the programs that provide assistance for individuals in need. We will investigate every dollar, every fraudulent claim, and when you are found, you will go to prison.”

"Our agency is dedicated to investigating those responsible for health care fraud, including this former Most Wanted health care fugitive, who stole scarce taxpayer money meant to pay for legitimate patient care,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s Atlanta region. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agents are determined to hold such fraudsters accountable for their crimes."

“Health care fraud affects every American. Waste, fraud and abuse take critical resources out of our health care system, and contribute to the rising cost of health care for all Americans. The sentencing of Karo Blkhoyan, shows the commitment of the FBI to stop those who would illegally manipulate the system. We are pleased with Blkhoyan’s sentence to 57 months,” stated Special Agent Charge, David A. Thomas, Columbia FBI Field Office.

The case was investigated by agents of the HHS OIG, IRS CID and FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Jim May of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.

 
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Updated March 17, 2015