Los Angeles, California - A federal jury found a Los Angeles doctor and patient recruiter guilty Friday for their roles in a $33 million Medicare fraud scheme in which Medicare was billed for clinic, home health, hospice services and durable medical equipment that patients did not need or did not receive.
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 Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of the IRS Criminal Investigations of the Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Following a seven-day trial, Robert Glazer, M.D., 73, of Los Angeles, California, the owner and operator of the Glazer Clinic located in Los Angeles, California, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 12 counts of health care fraud. Co-defendant Marina Merino, 62, of Los Angeles, California, a marketer who recruited patients in exchange for kickback payments, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and eight counts of health care fraud. Glazer and Merino are expected to be sentenced on Sept. 9, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial.
Glazer and Merino were charged in a June 2015 superseding indictment, along with Angela Avetisyan, the officer manager of Glazer Clinic and co-owner of Fifth Avenue Home Health located in Los Angeles, California (Fifth Avenue), and Ashot Minasyan, co-owner of Fifth Avenue.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Merino and other marketers received payments from Avetisyan and Minasyan to recruit Medicare beneficiaries to the Glazer Clinic. Thereafter, Glazer billed Medicare for office services and tests that patients did not need or did not receive. Glazer also referred Medicare patients for a variety of services, including home health and hospice services, as well as ordered durable medical equipment that patients did not need or did not receive. Based on referrals from Glazer, Avetisyan and Minasyan billed Medicare for home health services that were not rendered or were not medically necessary through their company, Fifth Avenue. Avetisyan, who worked as an office manager at the Glazer Clinic, also sold Glazer’s referrals to other home health and durable medical equipment agencies. Together, the defendants and their co-conspirators submitted and caused to be submitted claims of approximately $33 million, of which Medicare paid approximately $22 million, the evidence showed.
Avetisyan and Minasyan pleaded guilty in October 2018, and are awaiting sentencing.
The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, the IRS, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Claire Yan, Robyn Pullio, and Emily Culbertson of the Fraud Section.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. 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.