Los Angeles Physician Assistant Found Guilty in $18.9 M Medicare Fraud

LOS ANGELES—A physician assistant who worked at fraudulent medical clinics where he used the stolen identities of doctors to write prescriptions for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment (DME) and diagnostic tests has been convicted of conspiracy, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft charges in connection with a $18.9 million Medicare fraud scheme.

After a two-week trial in federal court in Los Angeles, a jury on Friday afternoon found David James Garrison, 50, of Leimert Park, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, six counts of health care fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

The evidence at trial showed that Garrison worked at fraudulent medical clinics that operated as prescriptions mills and trafficked in fraudulent prescriptions and orders for medically unnecessary DME, such as power wheelchairs, and diagnostic tests. The fraudulent prescriptions and orders were used by fraudulent DME supply companies and medical testing facilities to defraud Medicare. Garrison wrote the prescriptions and ordered the tests on behalf of some doctors he never met and who did not authorize him to write prescriptions and order tests on their behalf.

The trial evidence showed that between March 2007 and September 2008, Garrison’s co-conspirator, Edward Aslanyan, and others owned and operated several Los Angeles medical clinics established for the sole purpose of defrauding Medicare. Aslanyan and others hired street-level recruiters to find Medicare beneficiaries willing to provide the recruiters with their Medicare billing information in exchange for high-end power wheelchairs and other DME, which the patient recruiters told the beneficiaries they would receive for free. Often, the Medicare beneficiaries did not have a legitimate medical need for the power wheelchairs and equipment. The patient recruiters provided the beneficiaries’ Medicare billing information to Aslanyan and others, or they brought the beneficiaries to the fraudulent medical clinics. In exchange for recruiting the Medicare beneficiaries, Aslanyan and others paid the recruiters cash kickbacks.

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