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Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.
An employee of Mauran Ambulance Inc., pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Aharon Krkasharyan served as the quality improvement coordinator for Los Angeles-based Mauran. The company’s business model included the provision of non-emergency services to Medicare beneficiaries, many of who were dialysis patients.
According to the charges, Krkasharyan conspired with other Mauran employees to submit claims to Medicare for ambulance transportation for beneficiaries who did not require such services. Krkasharyan and fellow employees instructed EMTs to incorrectly state the reason for ambulance transport and to alter paperwork. They created fraudulent reasons to justify the transportation and submitted the claims to Medicare for payment, in violation of the False Claims Act. More than $6.6 million in fraudulent claims were submitted.
Maria Espinoza, an administrative assistant at DaVita Dialysis in East Los Angeles, also pled guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for healthcare referrals. She conspired with a Mauran employee to receive kickbacks in return for referrals of dialysis patients to Mauran.
Earlier this month, the former owner, the former general manager, and the former dispatch supervisor at Mauran all pled guilty to health care fraud stemming from these same allegations. All five defendants have agreed to pay restitution as part of their plea agreements.