LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Newport Beach physician who faked his own death to dodge an insurance fraud case and hid in Russia and Egypt for years faces five in prison for fleeing the country to evade justice.
Tigran Svadjian, 58, pleaded guilty in November in Los Angeles to a single federal count of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, a felony which carries a five-year maximum sentence.
Svadjian was arrested in Egypt last July and escorted back to the U.S. by federal agents 14 years after he disappeared into Russia, according to court papers.
In 2002, he was facing federal health care charges for allegedly bilking the state Medi-Cal program out of more than $2.4 million in fraudulent insurance billings. After agreeing to cooperate with the government’s investigation, Svadjian was allowed to travel to Moscow to visit his sick mother. But in October 2002, federal officials were notified that Svadjian died of pneumonia while in Russia and his remains had been cremated.
The fraud charges, with a possible sentence of five years in prison, were eventually dismissed.
The doctor had been hiding in Egypt for much of the past 14 years, most recently working as a part-time scuba instructor. He was en route to Russia with a fake passport when he was apprehended.
Federal authorities indicated that the fraud charges would not be reinstated.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)