Skokie Couple Arrested for Allegedly Bilking Medicare and Paying Kickbacks for Patients in $800,000 Health Care Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 15, 2014|
CHICAGO—A Skokie couple was arrested today after they and their home health care company were indicted on federal health care fraud charges for allegedly bilking Medicare of more than $800,000 for physician services that were never provided to patients. The couple and their company were also charged with conspiring to pay another defendant $11,000 in illegal kickbacks for patient referrals.
The couple, JOHN YOUSEFZAI, and his wife, ARMANOUHI ARZOMANIAN, owned and operated MEDICOSE HOME HEALTH CARE SERVICE, Inc., which employed physicians and provided in-home medical services to patients. The couple operated Medicose from their home in Skokie, where federal agents executed a search warrant today.
Yousefzai, 66, and Arzomanian, 56, neither of whom is a licensed medical professional, were each charged with five counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy, and two counts of paying kickbacks for referrals of Medicare patients to Medicose, which was charged with five counts of health care fraud.
Also arrested today was WILSON NARSA, 52, of Chicago, who worked for a non-profit organization that provided services to the elderly and disabled. He was charged with conspiracy and two counts of receiving kickbacks for referring Medicare patients to Medicose.
The three individual defendants and Medicose pleaded not guilty at their arraignment this afternoon in U.S. District Court. Yousefzai and Arzomanian were each released on a $50,000 secured bond, and Narsa was released on his own recognizance. A status hearing was scheduled for Aug. 12 before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.
The defendants were charged in a 10-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on July 1 and unsealed today following the arrests. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from the couple of at least $800,000 and a residence they own in Wilmette, as well as at least $11,000 from Narsa.
According to the indictment, Medicose employed four physicians licensed in Illinois.
Between May 2008 and January 2014, Medicose sought more than $2.1 million in reimbursement from Medicare for physician home visits, and Medicare paid Medicose more than $1.4 million. Of that amount, Medicose, Yousefzai, and Arzomanian allegedly submitted more than $1.3 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for physician services that were not actually provided. As a result, the couple and Medicose caused Medicare to lose more than $800,000. Those three defendants caused the fraud proceeds to be disbursed from Medicose’s corporate bank accounts for the couple’s personal benefit, the indictment alleges.
Between December 2010 and August 2013, all four defendants allegedly conspired to have Medicose pay kickbacks to Narsa and others, including at least $11,000 to Narsa, to induce Medicare patient referrals and increase the patient census at Medicose, which, in turn, enriched Medicose and its owners.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the HHS-OIG; and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgway.
Each count of health care fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or a fine totaling twice the gain or loss, whichever is greater, while conspiracy and each count of violating the anti-kickback statute carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory. Medicose faces a maximum corporate penalty of each count of five years’ probation and a $500,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment 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.