Attorney General Becerra Announces Charges in Extensive Medi-Cal Fraud Scheme in Los Angeles County
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arraignments of Ashot Mamikonyan and Lorraine Watson, the final two of nine defendants charged in an extensive fraud scheme involving All Care One Community Health Center in Huntington Park. In July, charges were filed against the defendants, all of whom worked for, owned, or were officers at All Care One. The group is alleged to have committed fraud amounting to over $2.5 million from California’s Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (FPACT) program from 2014 to 2016.
“Crimes against a program like FPACT, which is designed to help low income Californians by providing them with free family planning education, assistance, and services, will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Those who steal from these programs are stealing from the families who rely on them. My office will vigorously pursue anyone who commits fraud against Medi-Cal and our healthcare programs.”
From 2014 to 2016, All Care One was paid more than $5 million for FPACT claims. It is estimated that more than half of the $5 million was the result of fraudulent claims. The alleged scheme involved sending staff to low income areas in Los Angeles to solicit people to provide their patient identifying information and a urine sample in exchange for a kickback. The personal information and urine were brought back to All Care One where medical assistants were instructed to falsify charts for these individuals, and then doctors, nurse practitioners, and midwives signed off on the charts as though they provided medical services related to family planning or sexually transmitted diseases. All Care One marketers also allegedly offered kickbacks to lure individuals into the clinic for treatment, and many of these patients were treated by an unlicensed doctor.
In addition to Mamikonyan and Watson, felony charges have also been filed against seven other individuals involved in the scheme: Gevork George Ter-Mkrtchyan, Syuzan Harutyunyan, Karim A. Soliman, Guadalupe Morena Moreno, Jessica Villa, Maria D. Vasquez, and Anna Marie Soto. This group includes All Care One’s former owner, officers and employees. They are accused of purchasing personal patient information, enrolling fake patients into the FPACT program, receiving trafficked blood specimens so they could bill the program for the bogus patients, and generating fraudulent prescriptions. All of the defendants were charged with participating in a scheme or artifice to defraud FPACT, insurance fraud, and grand theft. Additionally, Mamikonyan was charged with the unlicensed practice of medicine, Harutyunyan was charged with aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine, and Moreno was charged with paying and receiving kickbacks.
This case stems from an investigation conducted by the California Department of Justice’s Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA). Through the DMFEA, the Attorney General’s office works to protect Californians by investigating and prosecuting those who perpetuate fraud on the Medi-Cal program. DMFEA also investigates and prosecutes those responsible for abuse, neglect, and fraud committed against elderly and dependent adults in the state. The Division regularly works with whistleblowers and law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of the complaint is available here.