Mark R. Madler
Co-owners of a Burbank pharmacy, arrested this week on suspicion of
filing false claims with the state’s Medi-Cal program, had previous
run-ins with the state agency that oversees pharmacies, records show.
Sofik Nazarian and Vrej Oganesian were taken into custody on
Tuesday by state Justice Department agents on suspicion of grand
theft for billing Medi-Cal $375,000 in medical supplies that were
never given to patients.
The pair operated the Best Pharmacy & Medical Supply Inc., on
South Glenoaks Boulevard. Both bonded out of the Los Angeles County
Jail for $50,000 each, said Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for the
state Attorney General’s office.
“The attorney general is really proactive in trying to crack down
on this,” Schilling said. “We are creating avenues for people to tip
A $100 reward is given to people who provide information leading
to the arrest and conviction of someone engaging in Medi-Cal fraud,
Medi-Cal provides health care for low-income adults and children,
seniors and the disabled.
Nazarian and Oganesian, both of Glendale, are scheduled to appear
in Burbank Superior Court on Aug. 16.
If convicted, the attorney general’s office will seek full
restitution, Schilling said.
Nazarian, 47, has been disciplined in the past by the state
Department of Consumer Affairs and Oganesian, 40, is facing pending
disciplinary action, said Patricia Harris, executive officer of the
state Pharmacy Board.
The board will take a look at the allegations in the criminal case
and then decide if additional action needs to be taken against the
pair by the department, Harris said.
The department revoked Nazarian’s pharmacy technician license in
January 2003 for dispensing prescriptions without a pharmacist
present; fraudulently billing Medi-Cal for $3,346 for the
prescriptions she gave out; and taking and receiving prescriptions
over the telephone, consumer affairs department records showed. She
was issued the license in 2000.
It is unusual that the department investigates cases of pharmacy
technicians dispensing prescriptions, Harris said.
“Pharmacies are very well-regulated so we get very few cases of
this type,” Harris said.
The pharmacy’s state license was placed on three year’s probation
in January 2003 by the consumer affairs department. The pharmacy was
not allowed to operate for 14 days and its owners required to obey
all laws, department records show.
In March of this year, the consumer affairs department filed a
petition to revoke Best Pharmacy’s probation and revoke their license
altogether due to allegations that Oganesian had access to the
prescription area in violation of the state Code of Regulations, Best
Pharmacy filled prescriptions for a three-week period in July 2003
without a pharmacist on duty and that Oganesian allegedly interfered
with monitoring visits by a department inspector.
Oganesian was issued a pharmacy technician license in September
2000 and it remains active, state records show.
Medi-Cal fraud can be reported by calling the Bureau Medi-Cal
Fraud and Elder Abuse at (800) 722-0432; the Department of Health
Services at (800) 822-6222.