A federal jury in Los Angeles late yesterday convicted the former owner, operator and managers of a Southern California ambulance company of health care fraud charges in connection with a Medicare fraud scheme of at least $2.4 million.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Ryan of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division made the announcement.
Yaroslav Proshak, aka Steven Proshak, 47, of Valley Village, California; Emilia Zverev, 58, of Van Nuys, California; and Sharetta Michelle Wallace, 37, of Inglewood, California, each were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud following a two-week trial. Proshak’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 24, 2015, and Zverev’s and Wallace’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2015, all before U.S. District Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial.
Proshak owned and operated ProMed Medical Transportation, an ambulance transportation company in the greater Los Angeles area that provided non-emergency ambulance transportation services to Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom were dialysis patients. Zverev was the billing manager, and Wallace supervised ProMed’s emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
The evidence at trial demonstrated that, between May 2008, and October 2010, the defendants conspired to bill Medicare for ambulance transportation services for individuals whom the defendants knew did not need such services. In addition, the evidence showed that the defendants instructed EMTs who worked at ProMed to conceal the true medical conditions of patients they were transporting by altering requisite paperwork and creating fraudulent documents to justify the transportation services.
According to evidence admitted at trial, during the course of the conspiracy, ProMed submitted at least $2.4 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary transportation services. Medicare paid at least $1.2 million of those claims.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Blanca Quintero, Fred Medick and Ritesh Srivastava of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.