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Eight in LA area caught up in nationwide Medicare fraud bust

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19:  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder listens during an announcement at the Justice Department March 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Justice Department announced a deferred prosecution agreement with a $1.2 billion fine regarding Toyota Motor Corporation’s misleading to its consumers on the unintended acceleration issues in the cars the company manufactured.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Attorney General Eric Holder joined with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to announce the Medicare fraud indictments.

Eight of the people charged in Tuesday's nationwide Medicare fraud crackdown operated in the Los Angeles area, and were responsible for $32 million in fraudulent billing, according to federal authorities.

All told, the government's Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged 90 health care workers, including doctors and suppliers, for allegedly bilking Medicare out of $260 million.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged people in six cities, including Los Angeles. The Strike Force is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team, a joint initiative of the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department. 

RELATED: Medicare Fraud Strike Force announcement, remarks, and the indictments

Among the eight in the Los Angeles area, two are doctors, several run medical supply companies and the rest are marketers, whose job it is to bring Medicare beneficiaries to the doctors. The group is responsible for $32 million in fraudulent payments for equipment that was not necessary and for treatments that were never provided, according to the government.

"The crimes charged represent the face of health care fraud today – doctors billing for services that were never rendered, supply companies providing motorized wheelchairs that were never needed, recruiters paying kickbacks to get Medicare billing numbers of patients," said David O’Neil, assistant attorney general for the Strike Force. "The fraud was rampant, it was brazen, and it permeated every part of the Medicare system."

Below are the individuals charged in California on Tuesday:

  • Robert A. Glazer, doctor at Glazer Medical Clinic in Los Angeles.  Glazer allegedly billed for services that were never provided. He also allegedly received kickbacks for signing home health certificates that were not necessary and for prescribing equipment like power wheelchairs that were not needed. Between 2006 and 2014 Glazer was paid $735,000 by Medicare. Medical equipment companies were paid $2.6 million based on Glazer’s false prescriptions and Home Health Agencies received $16.4 million based on Glazer’s prescriptions. Glazer's office did not return a call seeking comment.                                                                                                              
  • Sylvia Ogbenyeanu Walter-Eze, Judith Bongcayoa Estrella and Wilmer David Guzman. Walter-Eze is owner of Ezcore 900, a durable medical equipment company in Valencia.  Estrella and Guzman were marketers that brought Medicare patients to Ezcore. Walter-Eze is accused of filing false and fraudulent claims for power wheelchairs and accessories to Medicare. The company received nearly $2 million in payments from Medicare. The phone number for Ezcore 900 was disconnected, and the link to the company's website is no longer functional. KPCC was unable to reach Estrella or Guzman to seek comment.                                                        
  • Zoila O’Brien, patient recruiter/marketer for a medical equipment company. According to the court documents, she found Medicare beneficiaries and took them to a doctor for prescriptions they didn’t need and worked with the medical supplier to submit fraudulent claims. The indictment says she received $600 to $700 per beneficiary she found. In total, the court file alleges, the company she worked with was paid 356,000. KPCC was unable to reach O'Brian to seek comment.  
  • Eucharia Okeke, owner of Eastern Medical Supply in Inglewood. The indictment alleges she worked with a doctor who wrote fraudulent prescriptions for power wheelchairs. The lawsuit says she would pay marketers and doctors kickbacks for referring Medicare beneficiaries. Okeke’s company received $311,000 in payment. The phone number for Eastern Medical Supply was disconnected.                                             
  • Jason Ling, medical doctor in Spring Valley, near San Diego. He wrote unnecessary prescriptions for Medicare recipients. He was working with Eucharia Okeke (above). His alleged activities resulted in payment of about $311,000 from Medicare. Ling did not return KPCC's call seeking comment.                                                      
  • Hakop Gambaryan, owner of Colonial Medical Supply in Van Nuys. According to the court documents Gambaryan was paid $1.7 million by Medicare for false and fraudulent claims. Gambaryan did not return KPCC's call seeking comment.