Seven people have been charged in connection with what authorities say was a local ambulance company's scheme involving more than $3.6 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare.
The case against Penn Choice Ambulance Inc. owner Anna Mudrova, 40, and operators Yury Gerasyuk, Mikhail Vasserman, Irina Vasserman, Aleksandr Vasserman, Valeriy Davydchik, and Khusen Akhmedov was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Beth Leahy.
Penn Choice Ambulance Inc. operates from Camp Hill, Philadelphia and Huntingdon Valley, but all seven defendants are of Philadelphia, according to a news release.
According to the indictment, the group conspired to defraud Medicare by recruiting patients who were able to walk and could travel safely by means other than ambulance and who therefore were not eligible for ambulance transportation under Medicare requirements. The indictment says the seven, and others acting on their behalf, falsified reports to make it appear that the patients needed to be transported by ambulance when they knew that the patients could be transported safely by other means and that many of them walked to the ambulance for transport.
The indictment also said the defendants themselves, or through others, paid illegal kickbacks to the patients as part of the scheme.
The defendants billed Medicare for these ambulance services as if those services were medically necessary, according to the indictment, and, as a result of the fraudulent billing, the Medicare program sustained losses of more than $1.5 million.
If convicted, the defendants face substantial terms of imprisonment and fines and Penn Choice Ambulance Inc. faces significant financial penalties, including substantial criminal fines, restitution and forfeiture obligations. All defendants could also be excluded from participating in federal health care programs.
Bank accounts and other assets were seized which are subject to criminal forfeiture proceedings.
This is the latest of several health care fraud cases in the midstate.
In March, podiatrist Dr. Michael C. Karason was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud.
In February, Advantage Medical Transport Inc. owner Serge Sivchuk pleaded guilty to making false statements in a Medicare case estimated at $740,000.
And last year Dr. Timothy Allen Clark, owner of Central Pennsylvania Pulmonary Associates and Sleep Disorder Centers of Central Pennsylvania, was charged with health care fraud and money laundering.