5 Arrested in $15 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme in Los Angeles

5 Arrested in $15 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme in Los Angeles

A man in handcuffs in a file photo. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service


Updated: 6/10/2024


LOS ANGELES—Five San Fernando Valley residents were facing federal criminal charges Saturday related to their alleged roles in a yearslong scheme to defraud Medicare of more than $15 million through sham hospice companies, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
According to an indictment, three of the defendants—Petros Fichidzhyan, 43, of Granada Hills; Juan Carlos Esparza, 32, of Valley Village; and Karpis Srapyan, 34, of Van Nuys—allegedly operated a series of sham hospice companies that were purportedly owned by foreign nationals but were in fact owned by the three.
The defendants allegedly used the foreign nationals’ identities to open bank accounts, sign property leases, and, by Mr. Fichidzhyan, make phone calls to Medicare, and submitted false claims to Medicare for hospice services, the DOJ announced June 7.
In submitting the false claims, the defendants misappropriated the identifying information of doctors, claiming to Medicare that the physicians had determined hospice services were necessary, when in fact the purported recipients of the services were not terminally ill and had never requested nor received care from the sham hospices, federal prosecutors allege in papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
In some instances, according to the DOJ, the defendants falsely claimed that the same beneficiary received services from multiple sham hospices.
Mr. Fichidzhyan, Mr. Esparza and Mr. Srapyan, together with defendants Susanna Harutyunyan, 38, and Mihran Panosyan, 45, both of Winnetka, then allegedly laundered the proceeds fraudulently obtained from Medicare. The defendants—who were all arrested Thursday—are alleged to have spent the money on real estate and vehicles, among other things, according to the DOJ.
Mr. Fichidzhyan, Mr. Esparza, and Mr. Srapyan are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Mr. Fichidzhyan and Mr. Esparza are also charged with health care fraud. All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to launder money and money laundering. Mr. Fichidzhyan is further charged with making false statements.
If convicted, all five defendants face a maximum penalty of at least 40 years in prison. Mr. Fichidzhyan, Mr. Esparza, and Mr. Srapyan face an additional mandatory minimum of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft count, the DOJ stated.
The charges are the most recent in the DOJ’s ongoing effort to combat hospice fraud in the Los Angeles area, the agency stated.
The DOJ’s Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, currently comprised of nine strike forces operating in 27 federal districts, has charged more than 5,400 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $27 billion, according to the DOJ.

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