Southern California Man Sentenced 10 Years for $1.5 Million DME Fraud

A Southern California man was sentenced this week to serve 121 months in prison for his role in a durable medical equipment (DME) fraud scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday.

Vahe Tahmasian, 36, of Glendale, California, was found guilty by a federal jury on March 21, 2014 for his involvement in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud and identity theft scheme.

Evidence brought forth at trial revealed that between April 2009 and February 2011, Tahmasian operated Medicare fraud at Orthomed Appliance Inc., a DME supply company in West Hollywood.

Tahmasian, along with co-conspirator Erick Mkhitarian, purchased Orthomed from the company’s previous owners and put the company in the name of a “straw” owner.

Both men then stole the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries and doctors in the company’s patient files and used that information to submit a “large volume” of fraudulent claims to Medicare, DOJ noted.

During a three-month period in late 2010, evidence showed Tahmasian submitted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent claims to the federal program for services that were never prescribed by a physician and never provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

Tahmasian and Mkhitarian then took out more than $622,000 in cash from the company over a six-week period in early 2011, according to DOJ, for which it was revealed that Tahmasian used a fake California driver’s license to further the scheme.

In total, court evidence showed that Tahmasian submitted a total of $1,584,640 in claims to Medicare and received approximately $994,036 on those claims.

In addition to his prison sentence, Tahmasian was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $994,036 in restitution to the Medicare program.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva