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34 L.A.-area residents held in Medicare fraud scheme

October 13, 2010 |  3:03 pm

Federal agents arrested 34 Los Angeles-area residents Wednesday in a nationwide crackdown on one of the largest Medicare fraud schemes ever uncovered, authorities said.

A total of 73 people in five states -- California, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York and Ohio -- were charged with engaging in numerous criminal activities involving $163 million in fraudulent billings, authorities said.

The suspects allegedly stole the identities of doctors and thousands of Medicare beneficiaries and operated at least 118 phantom clinics -- or clinics that existed in name only -- in 25 states with the intent to submit phony claims, prosecutors said.

Ten people in the Los Angeles area were indicted on charges of submitting more than $17 million in fake claims to Medicare. Also arrested were 24 others who live in Los Angeles but were indicted elsewhere.

The suspects also are accused of running at least eight fraudulent medical clinics and seeking reimbursements for services never delivered and laundering the ill-gotten money.

The charges were filed in federal court in New York. According to court documents, the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian international organized crime ring, which has members and associates in the United States and Armenia, is behind the alleged scheme.

The group is named for its principal leaders, Davit Mirzoyan and Robert Terdjanian, who are based in Los Angeles and New York.

-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: Dozens were arrested Wednesday in a Medicare fraud scheme. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5