West Hollywood ambulance company owner sentenced

July 17, 2014

By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

A Southern California man who was convicted at trial of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, six counts of health care fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison this week in federal court in Los Angeles.

Three separate cases of Medicare fraud have been uncovered and adjudicated in the past 14 month.

Three separate cases of Medicare fraud have been uncovered and adjudicated in the past 14 month.

Vahe Tahmasian, 36, of Glendale, California, was found guilty by a federal jury on March 21, 2014, for his role in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud and identity theft scheme.

Mr. Tahmasian operated a Medicare fraud scheme at Orthomed Appliance Inc. (Orthomed), a DME supply company in West Hollywood, California.

In addition to his prison term of 121 months, he was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $994,036 in restitution to the Medicare program.

The evidence at trial showed that between April 2009 and February 2011, Mr. Tahmasian his co-conspirator, Eric Mkhitarian, purchased Orthomed from the previous owners and put the company in the name of a “straw” owner.

The pair then stole the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries and doctors in the company’s patient files, and used that information to submit a large volume of fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The evidence showed that during a three-month period in late 2010, Mr. Tahmasian submitted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for services that were never prescribed by a physician and never provided to the Medicare beneficiaries.

fbiHe and his co-conspirator then took out more than $622,000 in cash from the company over a six-week period in early 2011.

The evidence also showed that Mr.  Tahmasian used a fake California driver’s license to further the fraud scheme.

Mr. Tahmasian submitted a total of $1,584,640 in claims to Medicare and received approximately $994,036 on those claims.

This marks the second successful prosecution of fraudulent Medicare claims within the year.

In October, 2013, the owners and supervisor of Alpha Ambulance Inc. (Alpha), a now-defunct West Hollywood ambulance transportation company, pleaded guilty in connection with a $13 million ambulance fraud scheme. 

In May of that year, office manager and biller for a Sergey Mumjian, 40, of West Hollywood, was among 13 defendants arrested for having submitted claims for medically unnecessary transportation services.