Friday, November 16, 2012

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Operator of Clinics in Houston and Hurst Convicted in Health Care Fraud Case Investigated by State and Federal Officials

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas issued the following news release on Nov. 15, 2012:

Owner of Medical Clinics in Euless and Houston Pleads Guilty to Role in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy That Involved Nearly $3 Million in Fraudulent Billings

DALLAS — The owner/operator of medical clinics located in Hurst and Houston, Texas, Ovsanna Agopian, 57, pleaded guilty today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney in federal court in Dallas, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Her husband, Vagharshak Smbatyan, 60, who is charged in the same case with making a false statement to a government agency, entered a not guilty plea today in federal court in Dallas before Judge Stickney. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Agopian, aka “Joanna Ovsanna Agopian” and “Joanna Smbatyan,” faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, restitution could be ordered. A sentencing date was not set. Agopian currently resides in Houston, Texas; her husband, Smbatyan, resides in Grenada Hills, California. Both remain on bond.

According to documents filed in the case, Agopian was the operator of Euless Healthcare Corporation (EHC), located on West Bedford Euless Road in Hurst, Texas and Medic Healthcare Incorporated (Medic) located on Bonhomme Road in Houston. EHC operated from approximately March 2010 to May 2011, and Medic operated from approximately October 2009 to May 2011.

Agopian admitted that she conspired with co-defendants Tolulope Labeodan, Godwin Umotong, Leslie Omagbemi, Munda Massaquoi and Comfort Gates to submit, or cause to be submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for diagnostic tests, falsely representing that the tests were performed and falsely representing that the tests were performed at either EHC or Medic.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since their inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,480 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The investigation is being conducted by HHS - Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Texas Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael McCarthy and Michael Elliott are in charge of the prosecution.

To learn more about the HEAT Strike Force, please visit: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov