State

California man said to be among federal agency’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ sentenced in Columbia for healthcare fraud

A California man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a “ghost” medical clinic set up in South Carolina that filed more than $1 million in fraudulent Medicare claims, officials say.

Karo Gotti Blkhoyan, a.k.a. “Gotti,” 34, of Glendale, California, was sentenced to 57 months with three years supervised release last week in Columbia’s federal court, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said in a statement released Monday.

Blkhoyan, who was considered one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Top 10 Most Wanted for healthcare fraud, is accused of being part of a conspiracy conducted by a transnational criminal organization, Nettles said.

Evidence presented at the hearing showed that the organization established a “ghost” medical clinic in South Carolina by using stolen information from a South Carolina doctor.

Members of the conspiracy then enrolled the clinic in Medicare, established bank accounts, linked the bank accounts to a fictitious address at a mailbox store, registered the clinic with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office and then proceeded to bill Medicare, Nettles said.

The fraudulent clinic billed Medicare for more than $1.1 million dollars, with Medicare paying approximately $350,000 worth of claims, Nettles said. The money that was paid was laundered through Southern Californian banks and shell businesses by members of the conspiracy.

Two other members of the conspiracy previously pleaded guilty to money laundering. Four members of the conspiracy are currently international fugitives.

Blkhoyan had been a fugitive for about two years, until he was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport attempting to reenter the country, Nettles said.

Mindy Lucas

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