Harrisburg Ambulance Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Statement to Medicare
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 22, 2013|
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that the owner of a Harrisburg-based ambulance company has pleaded guilty to a false statement charge related to Medicare fraud.
Serge Sivchuk, age 27, the owner of Advantage Medical Transport Inc., headquartered at 733 Fire House Lane, Harrisburg, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner today to one count of False Statements in Health Care Matters. The charge is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, Sivchuk was indicted in January 2011 on multiple false statement and medicare fraud charges. The indictment alleged that between January 2009 and June 2011, Sivchuk perpetrated a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting hundreds of claims for the nonemergency transport of Medicare beneficiaries to and from dialysis treatment centers. The indictment alleged the claims were fraudulent because the patients were ambulatory, and the ambulance transports were not medically necessary.
The indictment focused on an August 2010 audit conducted by Medicare and a June 2, 2011 search of Advantage’s business premises by federal law enforcement officers. In response to the audit Sivchuk provided Medicare with dozens of ambulance trip sheets, which are prepared by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) at the time of each ambulance transport. The trip sheets contain a narrative section that describes the patient’s physical condition and ability to ambulate. The trip sheets serve as the primary support document for each ambulance transport claim for which Medicare was billed.
The June 2, 2011 search by the FBI and investigators from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General’s Office revealed that Sivchuk did not submit the original trip sheets to the auditors but instead submitted copies of other trip sheets that had been re-written and forged to conceal the fact the beneficiaries were able to walk and stand. During his court appearance before Judge Conner today, Sivchuk admitted he directed a subordinate to re-write and forge the signatures of two EMTs on a trip sheets pertaining to the ambulance transport of a dialysis treatment beneficiary on August 19, 2010.
Medicare paid Advantage approximately $166 for each leg of a transport to and from a dialysis treatment center, plus $5.49 per mile. Many dialysis patients underwent three treatments per week. Thus, one week’s transport of just one dialysis patient would result in Advantage being paid by Medicare more than $1,000.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Judge Conner will determine the overall loss to Medicare. During the guilty plea proceeding Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel told the court that the government intends to show during the loss hearing that the total loss to Medicare as the result of the fraud scheme was approximately $740,000. Daniel also noted that at the time the investigators executed the June 2, 2011 search warrant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil action in federal court that froze more than $936,000 in bank accounts controlled by Advantage and Sivchuk.
The case is part of a priority program within the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office focusing on Health Care Fraud. Anyone with information concerning suspected health care fraud should contact the FBI at 717-232-8686.