LOS ANGELES — Dozens of people have been arrested in Los Angeles and New York in a massive Medicare fraud scheme.
Federal agents served search warrants across Southern California Wednesday morning and in New York City in the coast-to-coast crackdown on healthcare fraud, id theft and organized crime.
An estimated three dozen people were served with arrest and search warrants in Southern California. 44 people were charged in New York.
Authorities say some of the suspects have links to an Armenian organized crime group that has tentacles reaching overseas.
The group, known as the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, was taken down as part of a nationwide health-care fraud sweep that included arrests in Ohio, New Mexico and Georgia. In New York, prosecutors charged more than 40 people in schemes that allegedly fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $100 million and receiving $35.7 million in payments.
It was the latest in a string of Medicare fraud busts nationwide by the Department of Justice over the past three years. In July, authorities announced charges against 94 people in separate schemes, including one involving Russian immigrants in Brooklyn, that allegedly submitted $251 million in phony billings.
The Armenian group allegedly stole the identities of doctors and patients, including thousands from the Orange Regional Medical Center in upstate New York. The names were allegedly used to file reimbursement requests from Medicare for procedures that weren’t performed at 118 nonexistent clinics in 25 states.
According to one of the indictments, some of the fraudulent Medicare billings were from a forensic pathologist, who normally does autopsies, supposedly for office visits; an ophthalmologist billing for bladder tests; an obstetrician billing for skin tests.
The charges filed Wednesday include allegations of racketeering, health-care fraud, identity theft, money laundering and bank fraud. Prosecutors said members of the Armenian group allegedly used threats of violence to collect money they were owed. One alleged leader of the group, Robert Terdjanian, allegedly threatened to “disembowel” someone who owed him money.
FBI agents arrested 20 people in New York early Wednesday and others were taken into custody around the country, said Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the agency’s New York office. Lawyers for the defendants could not be immediately identified.

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