LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Sentencing was delayed today until Feb. 26 for two Los Angeles pharmacy owners who were convicted of a health care fraud and money laundering scheme in which they billed Medicare for medications that were never provided and laundered the illicit proceeds.
After two hours of argument, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero delayed the hearing until next month to allow the government to provide calculations supporting the proposed amount of loss to Medicare caused by the scheme. Otero said he was “not convinced” by the prosecution's initial $34 million loss figure.
Aleksandr Suris, 51, and Maxim Sverdlov, 45, both of Sherman Oaks, were found guilty in August of one federal count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Suris was also found guilty of an additional count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six additional counts of health care fraud. Both defendants were acquitted of three counts of health care fraud.
Federal prosecutors are asking Otero to sentence both defendants to nearly 20 years behind bars, while the defense is requesting a nonspecific “lowest possible” sentence. Restitution is also expected to be ordered by the judge.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Suris and Sverdlov fraudulently billed Medicare and CIGNA for prescription medications that were not actually dispensed to beneficiaries by the pharmacy they owned, Royal Care Pharmacy, from 2012 to 2015.
In order to hide the fraud, Suris and Sverdlov obtained fake invoices from a co-conspirator to make it appear as if Royal Care had purchased the medicines for which it had billed Medicare, when it had not, prosecutors said. They also used the bogus invoices to launder the proceeds of the fraud through the co-conspirator, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
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