Glendale man heads to prison as part of fraud scheme

A Glendale man was sentenced in a North Dakota courthouse on Wednesday to serve seven months in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar scheme defrauding Medicare.

Last September, Hovakim David Mkhitarian pleaded guilty to fraud charges for his role as a midlevel participant in a day-to-day operation out of Los Angeles that saw $13 million worth of fraudulent claims filed with Medicare, resulting in a loss of more than $3 million for the program.

The sentence, handed down by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, stipulated Mkhitarian also serve seven months of electronic home monitoring upon his release. Mkhitarian must also pay $2,000 in restitution and a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund.

The scheme recruited foreign students on summer work visas who would drive around the country to open up bank accounts and commercial mailboxes for dozens of phantom medical clinics, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

After students returned to their home countries, conspirators submitted phony claims to Medicare using wrongfully obtained physician billing numbers and thousands of Medicare numbers, according to the statement.

"Medicare deposited payments into accounts opened by foreign students, who pre-signed checks so that conspirators could withdraw the deposited funds," according to the statement. "Money from the scheme was laundered through check-cashing businesses, real estate and gold dealers."

Two co-conspirators also pleaded guilty on Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud — Tigran Yusufyan and Hovakim John Mkhitarian, who will be sentenced on Dec. 8 and Feb. 23, 2015, respectively.

Sentencing for Levon Gevorgyan, a fourth member of the scam, is scheduled for Nov. 10.

The fraud scheme was jointly investigated by the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Department of State.

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