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. ••