A Huntingdon Valley-based ambulance company and two of its operators tried to steal more than $4.4 million from the Medicare program through a fraudulent claims scheme, according to a federal indictment released publicly last week.
The U.S. Attorney’s office announced criminal charges on Sept. 25 against Superior EMS Ambulance Company as well as two of its principals, Beana Bell and Vadim Fleshler, both of Philadelphia. Fleshler and Bell are husband and wife and are accused of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud as well as making false statements in connection with healthcare matters.
The defendants allegedly billed Medicare for transporting patients who were able to walk and could travel safely by means other than ambulance, and who were, therefore, ineligible for Medicare coverage. The defendants allegedly recruited these able-bodied patients by paying them kickbacks and falsified reports to make it appear that ambulance transport was medically necessary.
The Medicare program paid more than $2.4 million to Superior in reimbursement claims, said the U.S. Attorney’s office, which identified Bell, 31, as the owner and Fleshler, 32, as an “operator” of the ambulance company. The federal prosecutor did not disclose the home addresses of either individual. Superior has two business addresses, 85 Tomlinson Road and 33 Tomlinson Road, both in Montgomery County.
The U.S. Attorney’s office has prosecuted several Philadelphia-area ambulance companies in recent months for similar schemes. In April, officials from Feasterville’s MedEx Ambulance pleaded guilty to fraud charges, while a federal grand jury indicted Huntingdon Valley-based Penn Choice Ambulance and its operators for fraud.
In May, Churchville’s William Hlushmanuk, who authorities described as the “straw owner” of Bucks County’s Starcare Ambulance, was sentenced to 92 months in prison for fraud. In another case, Feda Kuran, operator of Brotherly Love Ambulance in the Northeast, pleaded guilty to fraud charges. ••