The U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp charged a former co-owner of a pharmacy with conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute, along with tax evasion of a significant amount. Igor Fleyshmakher, belonging to Holmdel, New Jersey, participated in a multi-million-dollar healthcare fraud scheme wherein he bribed healthcare professionals and evaded tax on nearly $33.9 million in their income, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. Fleyshmakher pleaded guilty in a Trentor federal court, with the investigation providing years of evidence indicting him in front of the court.
The allegations against him revealed that he, along with the involvement of seven associates, participated in a conspiracy to violate the strict anti-kickback statute. His associates included individuals who had previous indictments or were already under government scrutiny for similar crimes. These associates were Samuel Khaimov from New York, Ruben Sevumyants from New Jersey, Alex Fleyshmakher, and Eduard Shtindler from New Jersey. According to reports, Schtindler already had a previous indictment against him for participating in a relative conspiracy for a kickback, and was awaiting his sentence.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito claimed that kickback schemes such as these are illegal but defendants such as Fleyshmakher have been using them to profit while draining the healthcare system of its much-needed resources. The defendant allegedly stole millions of dollars through the kickback scheme and then stole once again by not reporting his true income, and by evading taxes. Carpenito ensured the fact that justice was served in the case of Fleyshmakher, and vowed to be swift in indicting similar cases. As per the investigation, Fleyshmakher was part of a huge kickback scheme that benefited Prime Aid Pharmacies, but would also divert federal dollars for the defendant’s personal gain while he ripped off the government agencies involved.
The representative from the FBI connected to this case, Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, said that criminals like Fleyshmakher should consider whether schemes such as these are worth the price they will pay in the long run, and that the law enforcement and government agencies involved in such cases keep a sharp eye on medical practices and pharmacies who are not transparent about their documentation and billing systems. The offenses Fleyshmakher was charged for, i.e., bribing several doctors to benefit his own bank account, and using several secret accounts in order to commit tax evasion, are very serious and are ruled by greed.
The indictment, therefore, was seen as a strong message to similar individuals involved in such illegal activities. The IRS, along with various law enforcement agencies including the FBI, place special attention on ensuring frauds like this don’t see the light of day, and after this case, the scrutiny is even more strict. The documents connected to this case revealed that Prime Aid Pharmacies operated as a “specialties” pharmacy in Union City, and the Bronx, New York. Both locations were said to have processed expensive medications that were distributed for the treatment of various diseases and conditions. This included Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Fleyshmakher, along with the other co-owner Khaimov, and the lead pharmacist connected with Prime Aid Bronx, Sevumyants, Alex Fleyshmakher of Prime Aid Union City, and Shtindler as a Prime Aid Union City employee, all were involved in the scheme defined above.
These individuals all worked towards lining their own pockets through the kickback scheme and tax evasion, draining resources from the healthcare system put in place to benefit patients across the nation. Having started in 2010, the seven associates mentioned before were all involved in paying bribes to doctors and their associates at clinics and other healthcare facilities in order to steer the prescriptions they would write, to Prime Aid Pharmacies. The bribers would not just include medication but would cover meals, luxury items, cash payments, cheques, and wire transfers. These bribes and kickbacks would often make their way towards doctors and their employees in New York and New Jersey.
The investigation revealed that between the years 2012 till 2014, Fleyshmakher would control the income from a secret account that he would receive as diverted from his ownership of Prime Aid Union City. The amount was concealed and there was no record of it in the pharmacy’s tax documentation. The amount was also erased from income tax documentation of the pharmacy and its associations. The money diversion led to an amount of $33.9 million, all of which went into Fleyshmakher’s secret account. This was not reported to the IRS and thereby would go on to benefit the defendants. The documentation regarding this case also alluded to the fact that Fleyshmakher and his associates did not share their real income values and would, thereby, show wrongful information on tax documentation.
The law enforcement authorities who unveiled the realities connected to this case included the FBI, the IRS – Criminal Investigation under Special Agent in Charge, John R. Tafur, special agents from the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the Office of State Comptroller. Each department and law enforcement agency played their part diligently, and the IRS in particular ensured the court that it takes a keen interest in the documentation and any falsifications in tax documents for healthcare agencies, pharmacies, and clinics. This is due to the fact that recent years have seen cases of fraud, especially healthcare fraud, run rampant. Often the documentation regarding pharmacies is done in favor of certain clinics and healthcare facilities, thereby hiding a more sinister picture of fraud. The indictment against Igor Fleyshmakher and his other associates led to the sentencing of five years imprisonment, along with a fine leading up to $250,000 each.
The evasion of tax and violation of the anti-kickback laws led to a thorough investigation regarding each member of the indictment, and while related cases also turned up, it was a surprising fact that the defendants were able to work the system for a second time while already being under investigation.
The law enforcement authorities connected with this case were quick to notice this and reaffirmed their commitment to come down harder on crimes of this nature. This case was one of many in recent times that have been pulled into the spotlight due to the sheer amount of money that was being used for personal benefit. If you or anyone you know would like to learn of the legalities of healthcare fraud or similar legal assistance, please call the Healthcare Fraud Group on 888-402-4054 for a free consultation.