Former Home Health Owner Receives 25 Months In Prison For Fraud, Kickback Schemes

The federal courts have been busy of late, especially when it comes to convicting home health owners and operators for wage-fixing, fraud, kickbacks and other illegal schemes.

One of the most recent examples is Akop Atoyan, the former co-owner of a Sacramento-based home health and hospice agency. He pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

Atoyan did so through ANGL Health Care, Excel Hospice and Excel Home Healthcare. He has been sentenced to 25 months in prison and also been ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 


Specifically, Atoyan and his wife – Liana Karapetyan – submitted thousands of false claims to Medicare and arranged millions of dollars worth of kickbacks for referrals, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Karapetyan already received 18 months in prison.

“In total, Atoyan, Karapetyan and others caused the agencies to submit over 8,000 claims to Medicare for the cost of home health care and hospice services,” the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. “Based on those claims, Medicare paid the agencies approximately $31 million. Because the agencies obtained the beneficiary referrals by paying kickbacks, the agencies should not have received any Medicare reimbursement.”


In addition to the two main actors, others involved in the kickback schemes are also facing potential prosecution. They are mostly skilled nursing and assisted living operators or workers. 

Angelo Spinola, the chair of home care, home health and hospice at the law firm Polsinelli, recently told Home Health Care News that government oversight has significantly ticked up in the home health and hospice industries. 

“To me, this was very foreseeable,” he said. “I think [President] Biden and his advisors recognized that many of the initiatives that he would like to achieve are only going to be achieved through his own appointees through the executive branch, so what we saw as soon as he came into office was a real focus on building up those arms of the government. You look at, for example, the DOJ. The DOJ has added a ton of investigators.”

In 2021, false claim investigations were at their highest level since 2014, according to Spinola.

“In 2021, $5.6 billion was collected in settlements that were reported by the DOJ, and $5 billion of the $5.6 billion was related to the health care industry,” Spinola continued. “Not only is there an increased focus on government enforcement, but it’s government enforcement specifically around health care and home-based care in a lot of these areas.”

Hospice News Editor Jim Parker contributed to this report.

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