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Financial Crimes

Health care fraud ring defendants sentenced to state prison in ICE-led probe

LOS ANGELES - Six men charged with running a crime ring that stole nearly $2 million from federal and private health insurers have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from four years to 16 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy, money laundering and other state charges.

The final defendant in the case, Edkar Mikirtijyan, 27, was sentenced today to a four-year state prison term by Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler. Mikirtijyan pleaded guilty June 9 to conspiracy to commit grand theft and money laundering. He also admitted to the aggravated white collar crime enhancement, which adds time to any sentence.

The judge also ordered Mikirtijyan and the other defendants to pay nearly $2 million to Medicare.

The case was filed against the six men a year ago following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal and local agencies. The defendants, all from the North Hollywood, Glendale and Van Nuys areas, were accused of conspiracy, money laundering and grand theft of personal property. It was alleged the crimes occurred between March 2005 and September 2006.

District Attorney Steve Cooley noted at the time the case was filed that nationwide, "health care fraud continues to milk billions of dollars annually from government-funded health plans and private health insurers. Health care fraud affects us all."

Los Angeles ICE Special Agent in Charge Robert Schoch said, "aside from the obvious harm to insurers and needy patients, the money siphoned off in fraud schemes like this is often funneled into other forms of criminal enterprise."

The other defendants and their sentences are: Karapet Khacheryan, 38, four years in state prison for conspiracy and money laundering; Hovik Joe Altunyan, 31, four years state prison for conspiracy and money laundering; Grigor Khorikyan, 31, 16 months for conspiracy and money laundering; Vahan Harutyuyan, 33, four years from conspiracy and money laundering; and Smbat Khachtryan, 28, for conspiracy, money laundering and possession of an assault weapon. All of the defendants except Khorikyan and Khachtryan admitted to the aggravated white collar crime enhancement.