Jul. 27–BURBANK — A Burbank pharmacy’s co-owners were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of defrauding the state’s Medi-Cal system out of more than $375,000.
Sofik Nazarian, 47, and Vrej Oganesian, 40, who worked at The Best Pharmacy and Medical Supply on Glenoaks Boulevard, are accused of billing Medi-Cal for prescription drugs that were not delivered to patients.
“The defendants turned upside down the age-old Robin Hood story: instead of stealing from the rich to provide to the poor, Nazarian and Oganesian fleeced a program that serves as the only source of health care for the poorest of the poor in order to feed their own greed,” said Collin Wong-Martinusen, the director of the state Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.
State Justice Department agents and officials from the state Health Services Department made the arrests Tuesday morning as the men approached the storefront pharmacy, officials said.
The two were booked into Los Angeles County jail on suspicion of theft and were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each. They are expected to have their first court hearing today.
The arrests follow an announcement by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer that his department will crack down on Medi-Cal fraud. Lockyer announced a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of providers of health care services and goods who defraud the system.
“This is a triple crime,” said Lockyer in a statement. “The money could be used for people who are truly ill and count on Medi-Cal as their only source of health care. Second, people are getting medical procedures they don’t need and putting themselves at risk. And taxpayers’ money is being wasted at a time when the need is great and dollars are precious.”
The state’s $34 billion Medi-Cal program, the second-largest expenditure in the state budget, underwrites the health care expenses of more than 6 million low-income adults, children and disabled persons.
Anyone with information about scams is asked to call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse Hotline at (800) 722-0432 or the Department of Health Services at (800) 822-6222. Tips can also be filed online at www.stopmedicalfraud.ca.gov.