Sam Sarkis Solakyan was arrested on September 27 following a grand jury indictment in the case. He is being charged with running a group of companies that allegedly submitted more than $284 million in claims for medical services that were "procured through bribes and kickbacks," according to the complaint filed in the case by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California.
Prosecutors charge that Solakyan was at the center of a network in which physicians were paid by the scan for referring workers' compensation patients for imaging studies. Participating physicians received cash or a steady supply of new patients, a practice called cross-referral.
The complaint alleges that starting in 2013, Solakyan worked with a California chiropractor and several other individuals to procure patient referrals by paying physicians. The payments were concealed through "sham agreements" for things such as marketing, administrative services, and scheduling, when they were actually volume-based per-scan kickbacks, according to the complaint.
Several of Solakyan's recruiters required physicians to refer a minimum number of patients to receive cross-referrals, the complaint charges. If the minimum quota was not met, cross-referrals were stopped to those doctors. The recruiters were ultimately paid $8.8 million for obtaining MRI referrals, and the kickback payments were concealed from both patients and insurers, in violation of California law, according to the complaint.
The complaint lists the dates and amounts of multiple payments that were allegedly made from Solakyan's companies to the recruiters. Payments for MRI scans started at around $50 per scan but later declined to $30 and even $20.
Cash payments were allegedly referred to as "reports" to conceal their nature, according to the complaint. On one occasion, Solakyan allegedly told a chiropractor that he would send his driver over to the doctor's office with his "reports," the complaint states.
Solakyan-operated companies mentioned in the complaint included Vital Imaging, San Diego MRI Institute, Global Holdings, Empire Radiology, Access Integrated Healthcare, Access Imaging, Paramount Management Services, and Capital Edge Holdings. He runs diagnostic imaging centers throughout California, according to the complaint.
Solakyan was charged with 12 counts of fraud in relation to the case, and he was being held on $1.5 million bail at a federal corrections facility in downtown San Diego, according to an article published October 8 on workcompcentral.com. The article notes that Solakyan's companies have had millions of dollars in workers' comp liens wiped out by a new state law designed to reduce workers' comp fraud.
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