Glendale resident found guilty in healthcare fraud plot

A 49-year-old local woman was found guilty Tuesday for her role in an elaborate $20-million healthcare fraud scheme that officials say involved a medical imaging clinic in south Glendale.

Nurista Grigoryan, a Glendale resident, allegedly fraudulently used an American doctor’s name and license number when she saw homeless patients at Manor Medical Imaging Clinic in the 200 block of North Central Avenue, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Grigoryan, who reportedly only holds an Armenian medical license, allegedly filled out phony prescriptions, which were already signed by physician Kenneth Johnson. He was reportedly paid for allowing his name to be used for the bogus prescriptions.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero described the defendants as having “preyed upon the poor [and] used them as pawns,” according to the statement.

Johnson, 47, of Ladera Heights and Artak Ovsepian, 32, of Tujunga were also convicted in the fraud scheme.

The plot involved so-called “prescription harvesting,” in which the clinic and other San Gabriel Valley pharmacies allegedly re-billed government healthcare programs repeatedly for expensive anti-psychotic medications, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The clinic’s operators funneled prescription drugs back to participating pharmacies and black-market wholesalers, where the drugs were relabeled, repackaged and dispensed again, according to the criminal complaint.

During the three-week trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence showing how patients’ files were doctored to show that they needed medication and they were treated.

Employees at the clinic reportedly used stolen identities to create thousands of prescriptions, according to the criminal complaint. They also recruited veterans, low-income seniors and Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries to bill the government for illegitimate services and prescriptions.

Grigoryan and Ovsepian are scheduled to be sentenced on June 9. Johnson is expected to be sentenced on June 30.

They face a mandatory two-year sentence for identity theft, but Grigoryan and Johnson also face the maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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