The CEO of several Southern California-based medical imaging companies was found guilty on July 2 by a federal jury of running massive healthcare fraud through the state workers’ compensation system.
Sam Sarkis Solakyan was accused of running a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims were fraudulently submitted through the system for medical services procured through bribes and kickbacks to physicians and others, according to federal investigators. He was originally arrested in 2018.
According to evidence presented at the trial, Solakyan and other conspirators obscured the true nature of their financial relationships with physicians to conceal the bribes and kickbacks, including by entering into various sham agreements such as contracts for “marketing,” “administrative services,” and “scheduling.” However, the money Solakyan paid amounted to volume-based, per-MRI-scan bribes and kickbacks to induce physicians to refer and continue referring patients to Solakyan’s companies.
Solakyan paid some $8.6 million to a pair of “recruiters” who were tasked with obtaining referrals from referring physicians. These payments were also disguised from patients and health insurers, according to federal investigators. Both recruiters pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges relating to the scheme.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia A. Bashant has scheduled an October 4 sentencing hearing, in which Solakyan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.
The former CEO of several Southern California medical imaging companies was convicted by a San Diego federal jury Friday of orchestrating a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims for medical services were fraudulently submitted through the state workers’ compensation system.
Sam Sarkis Solakyan, 40, of Glendale, was found guilty of running a “cross-referral” scheme in which physicians received money or new patient referrals in exchange for the referral of workers’ compensation patients
Prosecutors say patients were referred to Solakyan’s companies for treatments that were billed to insurance companies. Defendants then entered into “various sham agreements” to conceal the true nature of the bribes and kickbacks, such as contracts for various services like marketing, administrative services and scheduling.
The DOJ said Solakyan’s recruiters required physicians to refer a minimum number of patients in order to receive money and/or “cross-referrals.” If physicians didn’t meet the quota, the bribes and referrals stopped.
Solakyan was the CEO of San Diego MRI Institute and also operated diagnostic imaging facilities throughout the state, including in the Bay Area, as well as San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the DOJ said