Wednesday, July 20, 2005

LA Times, July 20

Couple Allegedly Bilked Medicare of $5.8 Million

By Monte Morin, Times Staff Writer

A Burbank couple accused of bilking the federal government out of $5.8 million in Medicare payments will appear in court today to answer to more than 119 felony counts, including grand theft, tax fraud and money laundering.

Sarkis Musoyan and his wife, Azatui Dilboyan, both 37, were arrested at their Scott Road home early Tuesday after an investigation into billing practices at four medical offices they helped manage in Los Angeles and Orange counties. According to prosecutors, the couple hired doctors and then submitted false Medicare bills for procedures that were never performed.

The medical offices were in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

Prosecutors allege that from July 1, 2002, to Nov. 30, 2004, the couple submitted fraudulent bills in the doctors' names. Much of that money was wired to accounts in Armenia and the United Arab Emirates, or converted to cash, prosecutors said.

Richard A. Moss, a defense lawyer representing Musoyan, said his client would plead not guilty. Dilboyan's defense lawyer, Leo Fasen, could not be reached for comment.

Moss said the medical offices were run by the physicians; the couple's management corporations, Queens Medical Management and American Professional Management, ran the business parts of the practice.

He described at least two of the doctors involved as "disgruntled individuals" upset with the management companies. Moss said the couple were aware of the district attorney's investigation for the past year.

Bail for Musoyan and Dilboyan has been set at $6 million each.

It was unclear Tuesday whether charges would also be filed against the doctors hired by the couple.

"We're still interviewing them," said Albert H. MacKenzie, deputy in charge of the Los Angeles County district attorney's Fraud Interdiction Program. "Some may have been naive … others were sort of dummies."

The arrests of Musoyan and Dilboyan were part of a pilot program targeting healthcare fraud, officials said

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