Houston woman sentenced in multi-million dollar Medicare scam

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A Texas woman and her California co-conspirator were sentenced Thursday to federal prison for their roles in a sweeping multi-million Medicare scam.

Konna Hanks of Houston was hit with just over three years behind bars, while Zaven Sarkisian of Fresno, California, was handed a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years. 

“The sentence imposed today demonstrates the gravity of Sarkisian’s actions,” Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said in a statement.

“He created an elaborate scheme and used others to bilk millions out of Medicare even after they attempted to cut his federal funding.”

Between 2012 and 2014, Sarkisian spearheaded the formation of 11 diagnostic testing clinics used to fraudulently bill Medicare for services that were either unnecessary or never performed.

Marketers like Hanks paid Medicare users to go to Sarkisian’s clinics, and in return Sarkisian doled out $80 to $100 cash to the marketer. 

Sarkisian convinced his co-conspirators to routinely order ultrasounds, allergy tests and other diagnostics that weren’t needed, and told others to write poor circulation, shortness of breath, heart problems and allergies in every chart. 

Eventually, Medicare put one of Sarkisian’s clinics on pre-payment review, staunching the flow of unnecessary tests. But then the fraudster recruited other people to launch new clinics in their names, even though Sarkisian would own the places and take home the proceeds. 

In the end, Sarkisian and Hanks admitted to causing losses of more than $4 million and $2.5 million, respectively, prosecutors said. 

Two other co-conspirators – Darryl Johnson of Richmond and Hmyak “Hamlet” Samsonyan of Katy, also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.


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