Often, False Claims are resolved through settlements with the government but sometimes the fraud committed is so egregious that it becomes a criminal matter. Such is the case of Yuri Khandrius. Khandrius is a 50-year-old man from Brooklyn, N.Y. guilty of assisting in a scheme to defraud the Medicare program of $77 million. For this, he was sentenced on Tuesday to 8 years in prison; after the 8-year term, he will have a 3-year supervised release.
The Court also ordered Khandrius to pay $446,655 and restitution of $10 million.
The crime that Khandrius committed was conspiring to commit Medicare fraud, a crime for which the Obama administration specifically formed the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). Since its inception, HEAT has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicare and Medicaid fraud against the government.
“The fraud committed by Mr. Khandrius is, unfortunately, very common,” commented James Kauffman, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas whistleblower and False Claims litigation. “However, a fraud of this scale is typically only uncovered and routed out through the brave efforts of whistleblowers.”
According the Department of Justice’s release, Khandrius misrepresented himself as a licensed physician, his co-defendant Dr. Gustave Drivas. While impersonating the doctor, Khandrius forged the doctor’s signature and wrote bad prescriptions. He administered diagnoses and signed medical charts.
In addition to impersonating Drivas, Khandrius paid conspiratorial patients for their silence in the scheme. In the course of the FBI’s investigation, which included the use of a hidden camera in a secret room, the defrauders were recorded paying approximately $500,000 in cash kickbacks between April and June of 2010.
Khandrius operated out of Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and SZS Medical Care PLLC. Unfortunately, none of the facilities’ employees came forward to report the fraud, but through the efforts of HEAT, the government was able to close this dishonest practice.