Cracking Down on Healthcare Fraud: California Hospice Executives Sentenced for $9 Million Medicare Scheme

In a recent development that underscores the importance of integrity in healthcare billing, two individuals associated with California hospice companies faced legal repercussions for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme. The scheme, aimed at defrauding Medicare, resulted in over $9 million in illicit gains from false claims related to hospice services.

The central figures in this case, Gayk Akhsharumov, 40, from Glendale, California, and his associate Karen Sarkisyan, also known as Kevin Sarkisyan, 45, also from Glendale, were handed sentences of one year and one day in prison. Additionally, they were mandated to make restitution payments amounting to $9,185,211 and $3,688,050, respectively.

Akhsharumov, who managed and held beneficial ownership of San Gabriel Hospice and Palliative Care Inc. and Broadway Hospice Inc., exploited these entities to orchestrate the fraud from January 2018 to May 2021. His tactics included concealing his ownership, designating nominee owners, engaging in kickback schemes for patient referrals, and illicitly profiting from the operation. Notably, after one of his companies ceased its operations, Akhsharumov further abused the system by fraudulently acquiring COVID-19 relief funds.

Sarkisyan’s role involved the submission of fraudulent Medicare enrollment forms, which misrepresented ownership details, thereby facilitating the submission of false claims to Medicare. This led to Medicare disbursing approximately $3,668,050 to San Gabriel, a significant portion of which was obtained following Sarkisyan’s fraudulent submissions.

Both individuals pleaded guilty to charges related to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and to defraud the United States, showcasing a decisive action by the justice system against healthcare fraud. This case was brought to light by key figures in the Justice Department and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, highlighting the concerted efforts of federal agencies to uphold the integrity of healthcare programs.

Karen Zekiri
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