New York - Two New York diagnostic testing facility owners pleaded guilty Wednesday for their roles in a more than $18.5 million health care fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) New York Region and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Larsen of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) New York made the announcement.
Tea Kaganovich, 47, and Ramazi Mitaishvili, 58, a married couple, both of Brooklyn, New York, each pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the lawful functions of the IRS before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold of the Eastern District of New York. Sentencing has been scheduled for July, 18, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie of the Eastern District of New York.
The defendants were the co-owners of several diagnostic testing facilities in Brooklyn, including Sophisticated Imaging Inc., East Coast Diagnostics Inc., East Shore Diagnostics Inc., East West Management Inc. and RM Global Health Inc. As part of their guilty pleas, Kaganovich and Mitaishvili admitted that they executed a scheme in which they submitted fraudulent health care claims for diagnostic testing services. The defendants admitted that they paid approximately $18.5 million in kickbacks for the referral of beneficiaries who submitted themselves to diagnostic testing and other purported medical services. Kaganovich and Mitaishvili falsely reported to the IRS that the illegal kickback payments were legitimate business expenses, which caused relevant tax forms to falsely under-report business income and claim deductions, they further admitted.
The FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Trial Attorneys Debra Jaroslawicz and Sarah Wilson Rocha of the Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha Payne is handling the forfeiture in the case.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS-OIG to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.