Los Angeles physician assistant David James Garrison, along with a number of co-conspirators, engaged in a high-stakes Medicare fraud scheme to write prescriptions for medically unnecessary diagnostic tests and durable medical equipment (DME). Because of the conspiracy, well over $18 million in false claims were submitted to Medicare. Mr. Garrison and his co-conspirators profited $10.7 million from the fraudulent health care scheme.
Mr. Garrison has been convicted of health care fraud, conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft for his role in an $18.9 million Medicare fraud scheme, according to the Department of Justice.
The evidence at trial showed that Mr. Garrison was an employee of a number of medical clinics operating as prescription mills. He trafficked in orders for medically unnecessary DMEs and diagnostic tests for the purpose of defrauding Medicare. Mr. Garrison wrote prescriptions and ordered tests, sometimes for patients he had never met, in the name of doctors who had not given him their authorization.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Edward Aslanyan and others involved in the fraud scheme opened several medical clinics in Los Angeles from March 2007 to September 2008 solely for the purpose of defrauding the Medicare program. They hired patient recruiters to locate Medicare beneficiaries who were willing to provide their Medicare billing information in exchange for the promise of free DMEs, including power wheelchairs. For many of these Medicare beneficiaries, the DMEs were not medically necessary. The co-conspirators paid a cash kickback to patient recruiters for every Medicare beneficiary they recruited.
As further evidence of the fraud, prosecutors showed that many of these Medicare beneficiaries lived far from the clinics, some more than 300 miles away. A witness testified that it was necessary to throw a wide net for Medicare beneficiaries because many Medicare billing numbers from the Los Angeles area had already been used for other Medicare fraud schemes and were too risky to use.
Once the co-conspirators had obtained the Medicare billing information and Mr. Garrison had written the prescriptions, Mr. Aslanyan and others sold the prescriptions and Medicare billing information to fifty different DME supply companies who used them to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare. The co-conspirators received between $1,000 and $1,500 per fraudulent prescription. DME supply companies engaged in the fraud that bought power wheelchairs wholesale at about $900 each, but they billed Medicare about $5,000 per wheelchair. Mr. Aslanyan actually owned and operated one of the DME supply companies involved in the health care fraud scheme.
When he is sentenced in September, Mr. Garrison faces as much as 72 years in prison and as much as $2 million in fines. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two years in prison.
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