Five people are facing charges in Los Angles related to a years-long $15 million hospice fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to an indictment unsealed June 6, three of the defendants—Petros Fichidzhyan, 43, of Granada Hills, California, Juan Carlos Esparza, 32, of Valley Village, California, and Karpis Srapyan, 34, of Van Nuys, California—allegedly operated a series of sham hospice companies that were purportedly owned by foreign nationals but were in fact owned by the three defendants, according to the DOJ.
The defendants allegedly used the foreign nationals’ identifying information to open bank accounts, to sign property leases, and, by Fichidzhyan, to make phone calls to Medicare, and submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for hospice services.
In submitting the false claims, the defendants misappropriated the identifying information of doctors, claiming to Medicare that the doctors had determined hospice services were necessary, when in fact the purported recipients of these hospice services were not terminally ill and had never requested nor received care from the sham hospices. In some instances, the defendants falsely claimed that the same beneficiary received services from multiple sham hospices.
Fichidzhyan, Esparza, and Srapyan, together with defendants Susanna Harutyunyan, 38, and Mihran Panosyan, 45, both of Winnetka, California, then allegedly laundered the proceeds fraudulently obtained from Medicare. The defendants are alleged to have spent the money on real estate and vehicles, among other things.
Fichidzhyan, Esparza, and Srapyan are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Fichidzhyan and Esparza are also charged with health care fraud. All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to launder money and money laundering. Fichidzhyan is further charged with making false statements. If convicted, all five defendants face a maximum penalty of at least 40 years in prison. Fichidzhyan, Esparza, and Srapyan face an additional mandatory minimum of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft count.