SAN FRANCISCO – 15 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The United States Attorney’s Office announced that a federal grand jury in San Francisco today returned a 61-count indictment charging the following individuals with healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud:
Alexander Dzhuga, 27, of Encino, California
Leonid Dzhuga, 27, of Reseda, California
Vladimir A. Semenov, 47, of Sherman Oaks, California
Natalia Igorevna Stadnik, 26, of Reseda, California, and
Armond Tennyson Tollette II, 54, of Culver City, California
According to the indictment, these defendants filed fraudulent claims with Medicare for medical exams and ultrasound tests totaling approximately $1,109,000. The indictment alleges that these defendants billed Medicare for: (a) medical exams that were not performed by a physician; and (b) ultrasound tests that were not ordered by a physician, were not medically necessary, were not performed by a certified technologist, were not performed under the “general supervision” of a physician, and/or were not performed at all.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “Medicare benefits are paid for by the public and are meant for examinations and tests that are actually performed and are medically necessary. The alleged theft of those benefits amounts to theft from the American taxpayer and from the Medicare beneficiaries who truly need medical treatment.”
The indictment alleges that Alex Dzhuga, Leo Dzhuga, Mr. Semenov, and Ms. Stadnik each owned an Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility (“IDTF”) (Direct Vision, AD, Inc., National Diagnostics, Inc., Pulse Diagnostics, Inc., and Prolink Diagnostics, Inc. , respectively) that was enrolled in the Medicare Program as an ultrasound testing facility. These same defendants each had Medicare beneficiaries recruited to the Milpitas Medical Center (MMC) by promising them free transportation, food, and medical care, along with free “milk” or Ensure, and Chinese ointment or oil.
The indictment further alleges that, upon arrival at the MMC, workers at the clinic copied the beneficiaries’ Medicare cards. Other workers held themselves out as physicians and nurses and conducted a cursory examination of the beneficiaries. Employees of the IDTFs allegedly performed ultrasound tests on the beneficiaries on the premises of MMC without first obtaining a legitimate physician’s order based on medical necessity. Alex Dzhuga, Leo Dzhuga, Mr. Semenov, and Ms. Stadnik recruited physicians, including Dr. Tollette, who were supposedly examining patients and ordering ultrasound tests based on medical necessity. In reality, these physicians did not examine the beneficiaries and did not order the ultrasound tests. Dr. Tollette is alleged to have fraudulently signed numerous orders and diagnoses supporting the supposed medical necessity for ultrasound tests for beneficiaries who he did not examine and who were not examined by any employee under his direct supervision, and often signed the orders after the ultrasound tests had already been performed.
This morning, Alex Dzhuga was arrested in Encino, California and Mr. Semenov was arrested in Sherman Oaks, California. They will both appear this afternoon before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Central District of California at 2:00 p.m. for arraignment on the Indictment and to set bail conditions. The defendants are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose on September 21, 2005 at 9:00 a.m.
The indictment charges sixty counts of health care fraud and aiding and abetting in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1347 and 2 and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. The maximum statutory penalty for each of the sixty-one counts is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release and restitution. However, any sentences following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Alex Dzhuga, Leo Dzhuga, Mr. Semenov, Ms. Stadnik and Dr. Tollette must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Ioana Petrou and Candace Kelly are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal technicians Tyle Doerr and Katie Cannuli. The prosecution is the result of a two year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services.