Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Armenian gets 6 years, 4 months for laundering money from phony Medicare claims

By Terry Dickson
Florida Times Union

A Los Angeles man will serve six years, four months in prison for laundering money through a Brunswick storefront in a nationwide Medicare fraud scheme and will face deportation to Armenia when he is released.
Chief U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Avetik Moskovian to pay nearly $309,000 in restitution and to serve three years on probation. Moskovian pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to launder money with Shahak Tumanyan and others in a scheme that was based in Los Angeles and operated shell corporations in Brunswick, Savannah, Buffalo, N.Y., Albuquerque and Chicago among other places.

Moskovian begged Wood for mercy.
“I plead with you not to destroy my family. I have children. This will have a great impact on their future,’’ he said.

But Wood went well above the 20-month sentence that Moskovian’s lawyer, George M. Mgdesyan asked for and said she went toward the top of the advisory sentencing guidelines. Wood noted Mgdesyen’s assertion that Moskovian had worked hard.
“He worked very hard at laundering money,’’ she said.

The mastermind of the scheme, Arthur Manasarian, is serving 14 years in prison and must repay $1.8 million of the more than $7 million that he and others gained by submitting and collecting on false Medicare claims for medical devices. The defendants stole the Medicare identities of patients and providing physicians and used them to bill the government for wheelchairs, canes, walkers and other devices that were never delivered to anyone. In Brunswick, the bills were submitted from a company called Brunswick Medical Supplies, which was nothing more than a storefront with a phone.
During Moskovian’s sentencing hearing Monday, FBI Special Agent Tony Alig testified that the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services investigators had identified 15 businesses that Moskovian had created solely to launder money. Mgdesyan, also of Los Angeles, said that Moskovian had come to the country in 1988 and had worked ever since to support his family. Moskovian told the court when he pleaded guilty in April that he had driven a cab and limousine and had owned a service station, a cell phone business and recycling business.

Wood said the government had trouble verifying some of his work history. It appeared that a lot of his employment was on a cash basis, she said. Mgdesyan said that unlike Tumanyan, who had fled from the government, Moskovian had admitted his guilt and that he was worried about supporting his wife and their three daughters, two of whom will be in college in a few days.
“He feels embarrassed he’s let them down,’’ Mgdesyan said.

Moskovian did not hide anything and laid out all he knew to investigators, Mgdesyan said. Although Moskovian’s admissions made the government’s case stronger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Rafferty told Wood, the case resulted from five years of hard work by government agents.
“The truth is, we were going to be here anyway,’’ Rafferty said.

The money laundering scheme that Moskovian set up was very sophisticated with multiple bank accounts and shell businesses: Once the Medicare checks came in, Moskovian began moving the money between accounts until it came out as cash, Rafferty said. Mgdesyan asked that he be allowed to go home to Los Angeles for two weeks before reporting to the Bureau of Prisons, but Wood remanded him immediately to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at and on twitter at :!/LaunderingMoney

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