Sacto 9-1-1
January 12, 2012
Doctor posing as Sacramento clinic owner sentenced in scam

A Los Angeles physician who assumed the role as co-owner of a Sacramento medical clinic has been sentenced to federal prison for his participation in a Medicare fraud scam.

Alexander Popov, 47, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Morrison C.England Jr. to eight years and one month in prison for committing health care fraud and conspiring to commit health care fraud, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. He was found guilty by a jury in July.

In sentencing, Judge England found that Popov was responsible for more than a million dollars in fraudulent billings submitted to Medicare and more than $600,000 in payments made on false claims.

Evidence at trial showed that Popov gave false testimony and manufactured evidence at trial, amounting to an obstruction of justice, officials said. Specifically cited was a letter Popov produced on the eve of the trial that was supposedly written years earlier while the conspiracy was in progress.

According to testimony during the trial, from February 2006 through August 2008, Vardges Egiazarian, 63, of Panorama City, owned and controlled three health care clinics in Sacramento, Richmond and Carmichael. Egiazarian and others recruited doctors to submit applications to Medicare for billing numbers. Popov assumed the role of co-owner and practitioner at the Sacramento clinic, and claims were submitted to Medicare under his name for medical services purportedly rendered at the clinic.

But officials said Popov never treated patients at the clinics. The patients, most of whom were elderly and did not speak English, were recruited and transported to the clinics by individuals who were paid according to the number of patients they brought to the clinics.

Instead of being charged a co-payment, the patients were paid for their time and the use of their Medicare eligibility, generally in the amount of $100 per visit. Patient charts were created falsely stating that each patient received comprehensive exams and an array of diagnostic tests. However, few of the tests were performed, none were performed based on medical need and clinic employees filled out other portions of the charts using preprinted templates. Some clinic employees admitted performing various tests on themselves and placing the results in patient files.

The patient files were then transported to Southern California, where Popov signed them, indicating that he provided or approved the treatments, and signed related billing forms.

In all, the three clinics submitted more than $5 million worth of fraudulent claims to Medicare, $1.7 million of which were paid. In return for their roles, Popov and the other physicians involved received 20 percent of the billings paid under their respective provider numbers, officials said.

Vardges Egiazarian previously pleaded guilty in the case and is serving 78 months in prison. Six other people also have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

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