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Case Number: 2:21-cr-00084-MCE
Judge: Morrison C. England, Jr.
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Sacramento County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office
Description: Sacramento, California criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks.
Akop Atoyan, age 48, of Glendale, and his wife, Liana Karapetyan, owned and controlled home health care and hospice agencies in the greater Sacramento area: ANG Health Care Inc., Excel Home Healthcare Inc., and Excel Hospice Inc. On behalf of the agencies, Atoyan and Karapetyan certified to Medicare that they would not pay kickbacks in exchange for Medicare beneficiary referrals to the agencies.
Despite their certifications, from at least July 2015 through April 2019, Atoyan and Karapetyan paid and directed others to pay kickbacks to multiple individuals for beneficiary referrals, including employees of health care facilities, as well as employees’ spouses. The kickback recipients included John Eby, a registered nurse who worked for a hospital in Sacramento; Anita Vijay, the director of social services at a skilled nursing and assisted living facility in Sacramento; Jai Vijay, Anita Vijay’s husband; and Mariela Panganiban, the director of social services at a skilled nursing facility in Roseville.
In total, Atoyan, Karapetyan, and others caused the agencies to submit over 8,000 claims to Medicare for the cost of home health care and hospice services. Based on those claims, Medicare paid the agencies approximately $31 million. Of that amount, Medicare paid the agencies over $2 million for services purportedly provided to beneficiaries, but these beneficiaries were referred in exchange for kickbacks paid to, among others, Eby, Anita Vijay, Jai Vijay, and Panganiban. Because the agencies obtained the beneficiary referrals by paying kickbacks, the agencies should not have received any Medicare reimbursement.
This case is a product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
As part of his guilty plea, Atoyan agreed to pay $2,525,363 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also agreed to forfeit that same amount to the United States.
U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. is scheduled to sentence Atoyan on Oct. 7, 2021. Atoyan faces maximum statutory penalties of 10 years in prison for the health care fraud conspiracy charge and five years in prison for the kickback conspiracy charge. He also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss for each charge. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
In separate cases, Karapetyan, Eby, Jai Vijay, Anita Vijay, and Panganiban pleaded guilty for their roles in the kickback scheme. They await sentencing.
HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONSPIRACY
CONSPIRACY TO PAY AND RECEIVE HEALTH CARE KICKBACKS
Outcome: 07/15/2021 11 PLEA AGREEMENT as to Akop Atoyan. This action involves victims and restitution. The US Attorney shall serve the victim restitution spreadsheet on Probation within 14 days of the entry of plea. Attorney Thuesen, Matthew Craig added. (Thuesen, Matthew) (Entered: 07/15/2021)
07/15/2021 12 MINUTES (Text Only) for proceedings held before Senior Judge Morrison C. England, Jr.: CHANGE of PLEA HEARING as to Akop Atoyan held on 7/15/2021. The defendant was sworn on his entry of pleas and entered guilty pleas to counts 1 and 2 of the information. The court accepted the guilty pleas, adjudged the defendant guilty, set sentencing on 10/7/2021 at 10:00 a.m. in courtroom 7, and ordered a presentence report. The defendant was ordered to appear for sentencing and was allowed to remain out of custody. Government Counsel: Matthew Thuesen, AUSA, present. Defense Counsel: Thomas Johnson, Retained, present. Custody Status: Present and out of custody. Court Reporter: Kacy Barajas. (Deutsch, S) (Entered: 07/15/2021)
07/15/2021 13 MINUTE ORDER (Text Only) issued by the courtroom deputy for Senior District Judge, Morrison C. England, Jr.: If any party wishes to file a sentencing memorandum or motion in advance of imposition of judgment and sentencing, said memorandum or motion shall be filed on or before 5:00 p.m., seven (7) calendar days in advance of the date set for judgment and sentencing. Any response thereto shall be filed on or before 3:00 p.m., (3) calendar days in advance of the date set for judgment and sentencing. The parties are cautioned that if any sentencing memoranda are filed late, the judgment and sentencing date may be vacated, and the matter continued. The personal appearance of the assigned probation officer is required at the sentencing hearing. Counsel are directed to coordinate with the probation officer to ensure he or she is present at the hearing and/or available for any continued hearing dates. If the probation officer becomes unavailable, he or she must advise the Court via an email to the Courtroom Deputy that either another probation officer is prepared to attend the hearing on his or her behalf or that a continuance is being requested. (Deutsch, S) (Entered: 07/15/2021)
07/15/2021 14 SCHEDULE of DISCLOSURE for PSR as to Akop Atoyan. Plea Date: *7/15/2021* Sentencing Date: *10/7/2021* Reply Date: *9/30/2021*** Correction Date: *9/23/2021* Report Date: *9/16/2021* Objection Date: *9/9/2021* Proposed Date: *8/26/2021* Copies: *AUSA - Defense Counsel - USPO* (Deutsch, S) (Entered: 07/15/2021)