More than 70 people involved in a vast, organized network based in Los Angeles, New York and Armenia have been indicted in one of the biggest Medicare scams ever.
An Armenian-American gang led by a "vor" (Eurasian version of a godfather) submitted $163 million in false reimbursement claims and netted approximately $35 million in payouts for treatments that never took place, according to the Department of Justice.
Armen Kazrian, who led the criminal enterprise, was arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The more than 70 associates involved in the organization have been charged in New York, New Mexico, Georgia, Ohio, and California. Members and associates of the enterprise allegedly operated at least 118 phony clinics in 25 states and used the stolen identities of doctors and thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in the scheme.
The Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, as it is known, is named for its principal leaders, Davit Mirzoyan and Robert Terdjanian, according to the FBI. The group's operations extend throughout the U.S. and internationally.
Kazarian is alleged to be a "vor," a term that translates as "thief-in-law" and refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminals from Russia and the countries formerly included in the Soviet Union, including Armenia. This is the first time a vor has ever been charged for a racketeering offense, and the first time since 1996 that a known vor has been arrested on any federal charge, according to the FBI.