Sentencing is scheduled Wednesday for two Los Angeles pharmacy owners who were convicted of participating in a multi-million dollar health care fraud and money laundering scheme to bill Medicare for medications that were never provided and to launder the illicit proceeds.
Aleksandr Suris, 51, and Maxim Sverdlov, 45, both of Sherman Oaks, were convicted in August of one federal count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Suris was also found guilty of one additional count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six additional counts of health care fraud. Both defendants were acquitted of three counts of health care fraud.
Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to sentence the defendants to nearly 20 years each behind bars, while the defense is requesting a nonspecific “lowest possible” sentence. Restitution payable to Medicare is expected to be ordered by the judge.
In January, Otero delayed the hearing to allow the government to provide calculations supporting the proposed amount of loss caused by the scheme. Otero said he was “not convinced” by the prosecution’s initial $34 million loss figure.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Suris and Sverdlov fraudulently billed Medicare and CIGNA for prescription medications that were not actually dispensed to beneficiaries by the pharmacy they owned, Royal Care Pharmacy, from 2012 to 2015.
In order to hide the fraud, Suris and Sverdlov obtained fake invoices from a co-conspirator to make it appear as if Royal Care had purchased the medicines it had billed Medicare for, when it had not, prosecutors said. They also used the bogus invoices to launder the proceeds of the fraud through a co-conspirator, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
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