LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The ringleader of one of the largest scams out of Southern California to target Medicare Part D out of has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution to Medicare and Medi-Cal.
Lianna “Lili” Ovsepian, 33, of Tujunga, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit identity theft in November. Besides her prison term, Ovsepian was ordered to pay $9,146,137 in restitution, according to US Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek.
Ovsepian was the manager and owner of Manor Medical Imaging, Inc. in Glendale, which feds say generated thousands of fraudulent prescriptions for unneeded and expensive anti-psychotic medications for “patients” who were typically low-income beneficiaries of Medicare and Medi-Cal. Thousands of blank prescriptions were pre-signed by co-conspirator Dr. Kenneth Johnson and filled out by Ovsepian’s mother-in-law, Nuritsa Grigoryan, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
“Patients,” who included veterans recruited from dual diagnosis programs for drug addiction and schizophrenia, elderly Medicare beneficiaries whose identities were stolen and homeless people found on Skid Row, filled out the prescriptions and the drugs were returned to manor, where the “patients” were given an amount, usually $100. Prosecutors say the drugs were diverted to the black market, where they were sold to other pharmacies and re-billed to health care programs as if the drugs were being dispensed for the first time.
Between September 2009 and October, 27, 2011 – when authorities shut down the scheme – Medi-Cal and Medicare was billed for more than $20 million and the programs paid out more than $9.1 million to pharmacies, based on more than 14,000 fraudulent claims in connection with the scheme, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say Manor’s organized scheme is the first in the nation to defraud government health care programs through fraudulent claims for anti-psychotic medications.
The scheme Ovsepian oversaw involved several family members and other co-conspirators, prosecutors said, including 16 who have been convicted either through guilty pleas or jury verdicts. Other defendants charged in the case include a Pasadena couple whose Huntington Pharmacy in San Marino saw its business grow dramatically because of its affiliation with Manor Medical. The owner of Huntington Pharmacy, Phic Lim, is scheduled to be tried in this case in March 2015.