Buffalo Grove Chiropractor and Physician Among Six Indicted in Alleged $2.98 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 03, 2014|
CHICAGO—A chiropractor and a physician with offices in Buffalo Grove, their billing manager, and three purported patients were indicted on federal charges for their alleged roles in a $2.98 million health care fraud scheme. Five of the six defendants were also charged with hindering the investigation, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendants allegedly schemed over the course of a decade to obtain health insurance payments from various private insurers for patient services that were never rendered.
The chiropractor, Igor Sher, and the physician, Eguert Nagaj, controlled North Suburban Chiropractic Clinic Ltd., Advanced Arlington Medical Center Ltd., and Advanced Arlington Sports Medicine Center Ltd., with all three practices operating from a suite of offices at 329 and 333 West Dundee Road in Buffalo Grove. A third defendant, Igor Filatov, was the billing manager for all three practices.
Sher, 42, of Palatine; Nagaj, 48, of Buffalo Grove; and Filatov, 61, of Wheeling, were each charged with 16 counts of mail fraud, as well as one count of obstruction of justice against Sher and one count of making false statements against Filatov. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $2.98 million and four luxury automobiles from Sher, Nagaj, and Filatov, as well as five residences belonging to Sher or Nagaj or entities they controlled in Palatine, Vernon Hills, and Long Grove, in addition to commercial suites adjacent to their current offices in Buffalo Grove.
Also charged in the 21-count indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury last Thursday, were Dimitri Konovolov, 48, of Wheeling; Maricela Hernandez, 35, of Arlington Heights; and Vera Smolyansky, 53, of Wheeling, all of whom purported to be patients and allowed their personal identifying information to be used by Sher, Nagaj, and Filatov in fraudulently obtaining insurance payments. They were each charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of perjury.
All six defendants will be arraigned on dates to be set in U.S. District Court.
According to the indictment, between 2003 and January 2014, the defendants, together with unnamed co-schemers, fraudulently obtained approximately $2.98 million from insurance companies by falsely claiming that certain chiropractic or medical services were provided to patients, knowing that those services were never provided. Filatov, who also purported to be a patient, together with Konovolov, Hernandez, and Smolyansky and others, allegedly allowed their insurance information to be used by Sher and Nagaj to submit false claims for reimbursement.
The insurance companies allegedly defrauded included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Aetna Insurance, United Healthcare, and Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company.
Sher and Nagaj allegedly paid Konovolov, Hernandez, Smolyansky and other purported patients a portion of the insurance payments or arranged to have their yearly insurance deductibles satisfied for their participation in the scheme. As part of the scheme, Sher and Nagaj also instructed purported patients, including three co-defendants, to lie when asked about the medical or chiropractic services or purpose of the money they received, the indictment alleges.
Sher was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly instructing others to lie to federal agents conducting the investigation. Filatov was charged with making false statements for allegedly lying to agents. Konovolov, Hernandez, and Smolyansky were each charged with perjury for allegedly lying when they testified before a federal grand jury.
Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count and mandatory restitution. The obstruction of justice count against Sher carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and the false statements and perjury counts against other defendants carry a maximum of five years in prison, and each of those counts carry a maximum $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather McShain.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; James Vanderberg, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General in Chicago; and Tony Gómez, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.
An indictment contains merely charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.