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Watchdog: Follow the Money

$20 million California scheme billed Medicare over and over for the same prescription drugs

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It was a scheme that involved more than $20 million using anti-psychotic drugs, the black market and repeated fraudulent billings of the government.

From September 2009 through October 2011, Medicare and Medi-Cal, the Golden State's Medicaid program, were falsely billed for more than $20 million worth of prescriptions for the costly medicines.

Lianna "Lili" Ovsepian, of Tujunga, Calif., was sentenced Monday to eight years in federal prison for spearheading the scheme from her Glendale-based medical clinic, according to the Department of Justice.

As manager and owner of Manor Medical Imaging, Ovsepian, along with co-conspirator Dr. Kenneth Johnson, pre-signed thousands of blank prescriptions for anti-psychotic medications for "patients."

The fake prescriptions were then filled out by Ovsepian's mother-in-law, Nuritsa Grigoryan.

Once the prescriptions were filled at pharmacies, the drugs were returned to Manor, where "patients" were given about $100 each for the drugs, which were then put into the black market, the Justice Department said.

Once in the black market, the drugs were sold to other pharmacies by Manor Medical and to Medicare and Medi-Cal, as if they were being "dispensed for the first time," according to the Justice Department.

Beneficiaries included "veterans recruited from dual-diagnosis programs for drug addiction and schizophrenia, elderly Medicare beneficiaries whose identities were stolen and homeless beneficiaries recruited from skid row," according to the government.

Ovsepian pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health fraud and conspiracy to commit identity theft; 16 other defendants, including Johnson and family members of Ovsepian, were previously convicted.

This case "was the first one in the nation alleging an organized scheme to defraud government health care programs through fraudulent claims for anti-psychotic medications," the Justice Department said.

View the Justice Department statement here.

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Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner

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