EMT Sentenced for Role in Ambulance Fraud Scheme
PHILADELPHIA—Khusen Akhmedov, 23, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for his role in a health care fraud scheme involving Penn Choice Ambulance Inc., operating from Philadelphia, Huntingdon Valley, and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Akhmedov pleaded guilty on December 5, 2013, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, false statements relating to health care matters, and paying kickbacks to patients, a total of 16 counts. Akhmedov, an EMT for Penn Choice, was indicted with Penn Choice owner Anna Mudrova and operators Yury Gerasyuk, Mikhail Vasserman, Irina Vasserman, Aleksandr Vasserman, and Valeriy Davydchik, all of whom have pleaded guilty.
The scheme involved more than $3.6 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare. The defendants conspired to defraud Medicare by recruiting patients who were able to walk and could travel safely by means other than ambulance and who therefore were not eligible for ambulance transportation under Medicare requirements. The defendants, and others acting on their behalf, falsified reports to make it appear that the patients needed to be transported by ambulance when the defendants knew that the patients could be transported safely by other means and that many of them walked to the ambulance for transport. The defendants, themselves or through others, paid illegal kickbacks to the patients as part of scheme. The defendants billed Medicare for these ambulance services as if those services were medically necessary, and, as a result of the fraudulent billing, the Medicare program sustained losses of more than $1.5 million for this medically unnecessary method of transportation.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sánchez ordered three years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $582,665, joint and several with the co-defendants, a special assessment of $1,600 and forfeiture of any assets traceable to the offense.
In prior proceedings, defendants Valeriy Davydchik and Yury Gerasyuk, both ambulance drivers, were each sentenced to 24 months in prison; the corporation was ordered to pay restitution of $1,548,583.93 and ordered to cease all operations. The remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney M. Beth Leahy.