FBI raid nets 15 accused in $100M Medicare case

Fifteen people in Glendale and Burbank were arrested early Wednesday in connection with a major healthcare fraud scheme — most of who were accused of being associated with a crime enterprise that submitted more than $100 million in bogus claims to Medicare.

Another four Glendale residents — Pogos Satamyan, 31, Andranik Satamyan, 20, Grisha Sayadyan, 59, and Allen Sayadyan, 30 — were arrested in addition to three other Van Nuys residents on suspicion of establishing at least eight fraudulent medical clinics in the Los Angeles region and submitting more than $17 million in fake claims to Medicare, according to federal indictments.

The scheme, which the FBI dubbed "Diagnosis Dollars," resulted in Medicare paying out $8 million to the defendants involved in the Los Angeles region operation, officials said. Nationwide, Medicare paid out more $35 million for the alleged fraudulent claims.

"Obviously in our city, healthcare fraud and identity theft are major public safety concerns, which far exceeds the capability of local resources, so having the federal and state and county support in addressing this issue has been significantly received in Glendale," Police Chief Ron De Pompa said at news conference.

Satamyan is also named in a separate New York indictment that claims he and others engaged in healthcare fraud, racketeering, identity theft, money laundering and bank fraud.

He and eight other Glendale residents — Armen Kazarian, 46; Davit Mirzoyan, 34; Jacob Pogosian, 35; Karen Simonian, 33; Vartan Boyzadzhyan, 38; Gourgen Mirimanian, 46; Armen Grigorian, 39; and Anna Termartirosyan, 35, were named in the New York case.

Burbank residents Karen Markosian, 37, Artur Yepiskoposyan, 31, and Herayer Baghoumian, 54, also face fraud-related charges.

"Because we arrested many people in the communities of Glendale, Burbank and Van Nuys, I want to be sure we are not too quick to judge any particular community, city or ethnic group as organized crime," said Bill Lewis, the FBI's Los Angeles Criminal Division's Special Agent in Charge.

Kazarian is suspected of being a Vor, which means "thief-in-law," according to the New York indictment. The name is given to certain members of a high-ranking group of criminals from Russia and Armenian, according to the indictment.

Those named in the indictment, including Kazarian, are suspected of being connected to the Armenian-American crime enterprise known as the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, which uses threats and violence to gain respect and payments, according to the indictment.

Others connected to the scheme were indicted in Ohio, New Mexico, Georgia and Louisiana.

Those listed in the federal indictments allegedly established at least 118 medical clinics in 25 states and billed more than $100 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to court documents.

They allegedly stole the identities of doctors to bill the bogus claims. Medical treatments were never performed on patients, who were also never seen by physicians, officials said.

The defendants in the Los Angeles indictment allegedly laundered funds from the bank accounts by forging the account holder's signature. They delivered the checks to an FBI informant who then cashed and gave the money to the defendants, according to the indictment.

"If the alleged perpetrators had the foresight to see today's event coming, they would have been dismayed that not only are they facing significant prison charges, but they will also lose the fruits of their crime," said Leslie DeMarco, special agent in charge of the IRS's Criminal Investigations, at a news conference.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World