NE ambulance drivers sentenced for fraud

Two North­east-area am­bu­lance drivers were sen­tenced last week to serve at least two years in fed­er­al pris­on for their roles in a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar Medi­care fraud. One of the drivers is also fa­cing murder charges for his role in an un­re­lated drag ra­cing crash on Roosevelt Boulevard that claimed the lives of a wo­man and her three young sons.

Last Thursday, Khusen Akhmedov, 23, of Phil­adelphia and Lan­caster, Pa., was ordered to serve 27 months in pris­on. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 5 to con­spir­acy as well as nu­mer­ous counts of mak­ing false state­ments re­lat­ing to health-care mat­ters and pay­ing kick­backs to pa­tients. As an EMT for Hunt­ing­don Val­ley-based Penn Choice Am­bu­lance Inc., Akhmedov took part in a scheme to sub­mit more than $3.6 mil­lion in fraud­u­lent claims to Medi­care from Septem­ber 2009 through Janu­ary 2013.

Co-de­fend­ant Yury Ger­asy­uk, 42, of Phil­adelphia, was sen­tenced on June 3 to serve 24 months in pris­on fol­low­ing his guilty pleas on sim­il­ar charges.

Akhmedov, Ger­asy­uk and five oth­er in­di­vidu­als were named as de­fend­ants, along with Penn Choice, in an April 2013 fed­er­al grand jury in­dict­ment. The char­ging doc­u­ment al­leged that Penn Choice sys­tem­at­ic­ally trans­por­ted pa­tients who were in­eligible for am­bu­lance ser­vices un­der Medi­care. Yet, Penn Choice billed Medi­care for those ser­vices. 

Spe­cific­ally, pa­tients were able to walk and could travel safely by means oth­er than am­bu­lance. In mul­tiple in­stances, pa­tients walked to and from the am­bu­lance with little or no as­sist­ance. In at least one case, in­vest­ig­at­ors saw a pa­tient ride in the front pas­sen­ger seat of an am­bu­lance while smoking a ci­gar­ette. Oth­er times, Penn Choice em­ploy­ees drove pa­tients to med­ic­al ap­point­ments in their per­son­al vehicles. Medi­care paid more than $1.5 mil­lion based on the fraud­u­lent claims.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Juan R. Sanc­hez also ordered each de­fend­ant to serve three years of su­per­vised re­lease and pay resti­tu­tion.

In a sep­ar­ate crim­in­al case, Akhmedov faces third-de­gree murder charges for the Ju­ly 16 road­way deaths of Samara Banks, 27, of Felton­ville, and her sons Saa’deem Griffin, 4; Saa’sean Wil­li­ams, 23 months; and Saa’mir Wil­li­ams, 7 months. 

Banks and her sons were walk­ing across Roosevelt Boulevard in the south­bound lanes near 2nd Street at about 10:30 p.m. when Akhmedov struck them with his 2012 Audi S4 sedan at high speed. Ac­cord­ing to testi­mony at a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing in Novem­ber, Akhmedov and an­oth­er mo­tor­ist had been ra­cing through traffic on the Boulevard. Akhmedov’s at­tor­ney last week told news re­port­ers that his cli­ent may plead guilty in the case, which was sched­uled for a pre­tri­al con­fer­ence today.

The oth­er mo­tor­ist, Ahmed Hol­lo­man, 30, of Castor Gar­dens, had slowed down just pri­or to the crash, ac­cord­ing to court testi­mony. He has been ordered to stand tri­al for hom­icide by vehicle while DUI and re­lated charges. ••

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