Former California dialysis center, ambulance company employees plead guilty to $6.6M Medicare scheme

The former employees of a Los Angeles dialysis center and a California ambulance company pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud charges Monday.

Maria Espinoza, a former administrative assistant at DaVita Doctors Dialysis of East Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to conspiring with an employee of San Fernando, Calif.-based Mauran Ambulance to defraud Medicare. As part of the scheme, Ms. Espinoza received kickbacks for referring dialysis patients to Mauran, after which Mauran billed Medicare for nonemergent transportation services.

Mauran's former quality improvement coordinator, Aharon Aron Krkasharyan, pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare. In his guilty plea, Mr. Krkasharyan admitted to conspiring with other Mauran employees to bill Medicare for ambulance services that individuals did not need. Mr. Krkasharyan also admitted he and his co-conspirators told Mauran emergency medical technicians to alter paperwork to make patients' medical conditions appear as if they required ambulance services.

The scheme resulted in more than $6.6 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare. Medicare paid at least $3.1 million of the claims.

Three other former Mauran employees — including the company's owner and its general manager — previously pleaded guilty to charges in the case. All five defendants agreed to pay back Medicare as part of their plea agreements. 

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