A Lancaster City man facing murder charges in connection with a fatal crash last year on the Roosevelt Boulevard has been sentenced in an unrelated federal health-care fraud case.
Khusen Akhmedov, 23, of the 400 block of Queen Street, was ordered to serve 27 months in prison after pleading guilty Dec. 5 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, false statements relating to health care matters and paying kickbacks to patients.
Akhmedov, formerly an EMT for Penn Choice Ambulance Inc., was involved in a bogus billing scheme that caused more than $3.6 million in fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare.
Akhmedov and several co-conspirators, who have also been charged, recruited patients to use the company’s ambulance transportation services, even though many of the patients were able to walk or safely travel by other means.
The defendants targeted patients who required regular transport to and from dialysis appointments three times a week, according to court filings.
Prosecutors said Akhmedov and others enticed those patients with illegal kickbacks, then falsified documents to make it appear as though the ambulance services were medically necessary because the patients were bedridden and in need of continuous medical monitoring. The company would then bill Medicare for reimbursement.
All the while, the defendants knew the patients were not eligible for ambulance services under Medicare requirements. Prosecutors said many of the patients walked to ambulances before being transported.
One regular patient would routinely ride in the front passenger seat of the ambulance and smoke cigarettes during the trip, according to court documents. Penn Choice billed Medicare more than $100,000 for that patient's transport costs, court filings state.
As Medicare paid about $400, plus a mileage allowance, for every round-trip ambulance transport, each dialysis patient had the potential to generate the company about $1,200 a week, prosecutors said. The scam caused the Medicare program to sustain losses of more than $1.5 million.
Akhmedov, who joined Penn Choice in 2011, was paid a cash bonus for each dialysis patient he brought to the company, court documents state. "It appears that Akhmedov viewed patients as commodities whom he could exploit for his personal gain," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
The filing calls Akhmedov and his co-conspirators' operation “essentially ... nothing more than a private taxi service using mechanically unsound and unsafe ambulances to transport ambulatory patients to and from dialysis treatment appointments.”
Akhmedov also furnished fellow Penn Choice ambulance drivers with fake Emergency Vehicle Operator and CPR credentials, according to the memorandum. "There is no explanation for Akhmedov's conduct other than that he acted out of self-interest and greed," the filing states.
Akhmedov “abruptly” left Penn Choice in March 2012 after a dispute with a co-conspirator over money, prosecutors said. Still, his departure “didn’t signal a renouncement of criminal activity,” the government argued in court documents.
Instead, Akhmedov quickly joined Superior EMT Ambulance Company, for which he recruited and transported patients up until his arrest in the Penn Choice case, investigators said. Superior and its owners were indicted for Medicare fraud in September of 2013.
Also indicted in connection with the Penn Choice fraud scheme were company owner Anna Mudrova and operators Yury Gerasyuk, Mikhail Vasserman, Irina Vasserman, Aleksandr Vasserman and Valeriy Davydchik. All of the defendants have pleaded guilty.
Davydchik and Gerasyuk, both ambulance drivers, were each sentenced to 24 months in prison. Penn Choice Ambulance was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution and to cease all operations. The remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing.
In addition to the prison term, Akhmedov was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $582,665 in joint restitution with several other co-defendants.
Akhmedov is still facing a slew of charges, including third-degree murder, in connection with a fatal crash that occurred in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia while he was on pretrial release in the federal fraud case.
Police said Akhmedov, behind the wheel of a 2012 Audi, was drag racing a second man, 30-year-old Ahmen Holloman, shortly before 10:30 a.m. July 16, 2013. As the two sped south on Roosevelt Boulevard from Front Street, Akhmedov allegedly lost control of the car.
Police said he plowed into 28-year-old Samara Selena Banks and her four children as they crossed the highway. Banks and three of her sons, aged 7 months, 23 months and 4 years, were all killed. Banks’ 5-year-old son survived.
Akhmedov and Holloman, of the 7000 block of Soulder Street in Castor, were both arrested the day after the crash and charged with four counts each of third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter, along with five counts of reckless endangerment.
Akhmedov is next due in court June 14 for a pretrial conference in connection with those charges. A trial date has not yet been set.