Los Angeles, California - The general manager of a Southern California ambulance company pleaded guilty yesterday in Los Angeles to conspiracy to commit Medicare fraud, conspiracy to obstruct a Medicare audit, and making materially false statements to law enforcement officers.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Assistant Director in Charge Bill Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Wesley Harlan Kingsbury, 34, of Bloomington, California, pleaded guilty to the charges before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 9, 2015.
According to court documents, Kingsbury was the general manager of Alpha Ambulance Inc., which specialized in the provision of non-emergency ambulance transportation services to Medicare beneficiaries, primarily to and from dialysis treatments. Between April 2010 and July 2012, Kingsbury conspired with Alex Kapri and Aleksey (Russ) Muratov, the owners of Alpha Ambulance, as well as the training supervisor Danielle Medina, to bill Medicare for ambulance transportation services for individuals that Kingsbury knew did not need to be transported by ambulance. In addition, as general manager, Kingsbury instructed emergency medical technicians (EMTs) that worked at Alpha Ambulance to conceal the true medical condition of patients they were transporting by altering requisite paperwork and creating false reasons to justify the transportation services.
In early 2012, Medicare notified Alpha Ambulance that the company would be subject to a Medicare audit. In response, Kingsbury and his co-conspirators altered patient documentation to create false justifications for the ambulance transportation services. Kingsbury and others used light tracing tables to trace over original documents and create falsified patient documentation for the purpose of sending those falsified documents to Medicare, and then they used a paper shredder to destroy the original patient documents.
Kingsbury and his co-conspirators submitted $5,522,079 in fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid $1,338,413 on those fraudulent claims.
Further according to court documents, in April 2012, Kingsbury was approached by law enforcement officers and was asked to assist with the investigation into Alpha Ambulance. Kingsbury disclosed to the owners of Alpha Ambulance the names of the law enforcement officers who were conducting the investigation and the questions they had asked Kingsbury about the company. On May 1, 2012, Kingsbury falsely denied to the law enforcement agents that he had previously disclosed that information to the owners of Alpha.
Kapri, Muratov and Medina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on October 28, 2013. They were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 75 months, 108 months, and 30 months, respectively.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Los Angeles Region of HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Alexander F. Porter and Assistant Chief Ben Curtis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.