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Glendale pair convicted of laundering more than $1 million in Medicare fraud

Two Glendale men were convicted this week of laundering more than $1 million generated through fraudulent billings to Medicare for equipment and tests that were either medically unnecessary or never provided, officials said.

After a three-week trial, a federal jury found Karen “Gary” Sarkissian guilty of six counts of money laundering, five counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

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Meanwhile, Edgar Pogosian, also known as Edgar Hakobyan, was convicted of one count each of conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering.

Both are slated to be sentenced in June.

Officials said Sarkissian operated an Echo Park clinic, where a physician assistant, L’Tanya Smith, ordered medically unnecessary tests and services in 2009 and 2010 that led to more than $1.2 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.

Smith also ordered medically unnecessary durable medical equipment and tests that were referred to other Medicare providers, who then submitted more than $10 million in fraudulent claims. Smith pleaded guilty to five counts of healthcare fraud and is due to be sentenced in May.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Sarkissian was involved in laundering the fraudulent proceeds through five bogus corporations established by two men also convicted in the scheme.

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The two co-conspirators deposited millions of dollars of fraudulent proceeds into the bank accounts of the bogus companies, and later wrote checks from the companies to themselves and their relatives, including Pogosian, officials said.

Pogosian’s uncle, Khachatour Hakobyan, who prosecutors believe led the scheme, was sentenced last month to 57 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to launder healthcare fraud proceeds and underreporting his income from the conspiracy. The Glendale resident was also ordered to pay more than $600,000 in restitution.

Another Glendale resident involved in the scheme, Aram Aramyan, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $350,000 in restitution, officials said.

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Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek

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