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Brown Arrests two Individuals for $678,000 Medicare Rip-off

Friday, August 14, 2009
Contact: (415) 703-5837

Los Angeles – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced that agents from his office late last night arrested two individuals who bilked Medicare out of $678,000 by submitting phony bills for walkers, wheelchairs, diabetic shoes and even body braces and canes, using the proceeds for luxury goods including a gold-colored Hummer H200.

A third suspect remains at large.

“At a time when government needs every dollar it has, these individuals submitted completely false claims for equipment they never purchased,” Brown said. “Such callous disregard for the public interest is intolerable and warrants swift prosecution.”

In April 2009, agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a joint investigation into dozens of suspicious Medicare claims for durable medical goods.

The four-month investigation found that, beginning in November 2008, the defendants established dummy medical supply companies, obtained stolen social security numbers and physician providers numbers, made counterfeit state IDs, and used the information to submit false claims totaling $678,000 to Medicare.

After receiving payment from Medicare, the defendants deposited the funds into an account at Center Bank in Los Angeles, using them to pay for luxury goods, including the Hummer that Odonnell purchased.

Brown’s office filed charges Tuesday in LA Superior Court and yesterday arrested the following individuals:

• Monica Odonnell, 44, of Canoga Park, on four counts of misapplication of records, and computer access and fraud. She is being held on $15,000 bail in the Los Angeles County Jail. Odonnell is a Department of Motor Vehicles employee.
• Ekaterina Shlykova, 23, of Los Angeles on one count of perjury. She is being held on $25,000 bail in the Los Angeles County Jail.
• A third individual -- Evgeny Lyadov, 32, of Los Angeles -- was charged with 36 counts of grand theft, making fraudulent claims, identity theft, and perjury. Lyadov remains at large. A search of his office uncovered over $170,000 in cash, fraudulent credit cards and duplicate passports.

Medicare schemes are often uncovered when one business submits an unusually large number of claims for the same device or beneficiaries. To evade detection, these defendants sought to give the impression that doctors were ordering medical equipment for different beneficiaries at different stores.

Ultimately, however, the actual Medicare beneficiaries complained that their monthly statements showed that they had received medical equipment from businesses in Los Angeles, when they had not.

Auditors investigated and discovered a large number of claims for the same devices were being made from a company called “North Hollywood Medical Supply” and referred the suspicious activity for prosecution.

"Medicare fraud is an increasingly serious problem that costs taxpayers billions in lost and wasted dollars,' said Sarah J Allen, Special Agent in Charge for the San Francisco Region of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health of Human Services. 'Today’s arrests represent one victory in a bigger battle to stop these fraudulent schemes so that Medicare can better serve those who really need and deserve help.'

If convicted, Odonnell and Shlykova could receive up to three years in state prison. Lyadov could face more than 15 years in prison.

To report fraud or abuse, call the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse at (800) 722-0432.

Copies of the arrest warrants and criminal complaints are available upon request.

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