Los Angeles, California - A federal jury in Los Angeles, California found a pharmacy owner guilty Friday for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme involving more than $1.3 million in fraudulent claims for prescription drugs.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Special Agent in Charge Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office made the announcement.
After a two-day trial, Tamar Tatarian, 39, of Pasadena, California, was convicted of one count of health care fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 25, 2019 before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial. Tatarian was the owner of Akhtamar Pharmacy in Pasadena.
According to evidence presented at trial, from approximately October 2015 through approximately October 2017, Tatarian engaged in a scheme involving the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare Part D plan sponsors for prescription drugs that Akhtamar Pharmacy never ordered from wholesalers, and thus never dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries. Tatarian attempted to conceal the fraud through the creation of fake invoices, reflecting wholesale drug purchases by Akhtamar Pharmacy which had, in fact, never taken place. As a result of this scheme, Tatarian through Akhtamar Pharmacy submitted claims to Medicare for more than $1.3 million in prescription drugs that she never purchased or dispensed to patients, the evidence showed.
This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. Trial Attorney Alexis Gregorian and Assistant Chief A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.