A South Florida woman is the alleged leader in a healthcare fraud conspiracy that’s cost the state’s Medicaid program more than $2.7 million, according to federal prosecutors.
Irma Davidian, of Boca Raton, through her husband David’s company American Advisory Associates has been accused of being the key player in a scam that involved payments to employees of the Department of Children and Families as well as the Social Security Administration in exchange for submitting fraudulent applications on behalf of her client base which she attained by advertising in newspapers.
According to court documents, Davidian ran ads in local publications claiming she could acquire government benefits such as food stamp and Medicaid benefits no matter what an individual’s circumstances were. Her fee for this service varied from $2,000 to $5,000.
Her main contact at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) was Gladys Roman, who worked as an as an interview clerk for the agency. Roman was paid by Davidian to submit falsified documentation that would give Davidian’s clients a much greater chance for their applications to be approved. She entered the data from her home computer, as well as from a local library. After the information was inputted she would inform another employee, George Lopez, which of the applications needed to be approved. Since cases were assigned at random, if Lopez found applications assigned to other case workers he easily overrode the assignment of the case and reassigned the applications to his oversight by accessing a department computer within the DCF system. Both suspects are residents of Pompano Beach.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office over a period of about two years, Davidian paid both Roman and Lopez approximately $1,000 a month for their role in the fraud.
Similarly, Davidian had two connections that worked as claims representatives for the Social Security Administration. In the same type of setup, Maria Sanchez of Pembroke Pines and Alejandro Lomoso of Southwest Ranches both employees’ of the SSA accepted payments from Davidian of $15,000 and $9,500 respectively for processing modified applications over approximately the same period of time.
All in all, Davidian is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds, commit health care fraud, and conspiracy to give a gratuity to a public official. Roman, Lopez, Sanchez and Lomoso are all charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds and commit health care fraud.
Davidian faces a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $500,000. Her subordinates all face a five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000 each.
Many of her clients from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have also been arrested and charged with Medicaid Fraud. Thirteen of her clients were arrested in July. Among them is former NHL hockey player Sergei Berezin and wife Lyudmila Ustakova who are currently residing in Boca Raton. According to authorities, the pair deceptively billed Medicaid more than $67,000 between 2010 and 2013, with falsified documents acquired through Davidian’s scheme and were arrested on two counts of fraud. Four other Russian immigrants were also arrested in the sting.
Berezin owns a house valued at close to $1 million. He told a confidential informant during the undercover investigation that his income was approximately $100,000 annually from rental properties and fees paid to him for training hockey players.
Berezin played for numerous International, American and Canadian hockey teams between 1990 and 2004. He also played in International championship games including the 1994 Olympics for Russia. His most notable moment on the ice was when he scored the 10,000th home ice goal for the Montreal Canadiens in 2002.
To read an article about the charges against Berezin and his wife, written on palmbeachpost.com that was originally posted as a blurb on my Google+ page, click here and scroll down to the 7/29/15 entry.