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Local men face arraignment

They’re accused of having been in a crime ring that fraudulently cashed Medicare checks.

April 12, 2008|By Ryan Vaillancourt

GLENDALE — Two Glendale men charged with participating in a crime ring that stole nearly $2 million from federal and private health insurers will be arraigned Tuesday in Los Angeles Criminal Court.

Edkar Mikirtijyan, 25, and Vahan E. Harutyunyan, 32, are among six men facing a total of 62 counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, money laundering and grand theft, according to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.

Federal authorities arrested the six men on April 4 at homes in Glendale, North Hollywood and Van Nuys.

The men are accused of giving fraudulently obtained Medicare and private insurance checks to a man described in court documents as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement confidential source, with the understanding that the source would cash the checks and return a portion of the proceeds.

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The case began as a drug and money laundering investigation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was later expanded to include healthcare fraud, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“At that point, we reached out to the [District Attorney’s] Office and with [the United States Department of Health and Human Services],” Kice said.

A seventh suspect was also taken into custody on April 4 for an unrelated gun charge, district attorney officials said. And search warrants were executed at two businesses in Burbank in an attempt to find evidence, said Shiara Davila, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.

Davila would not disclose the two businesses.

“Because it’s a pending case, we can’t really specify too much,” Davila said.

Mikirtijyan faces 31 charges — the most faced by a single defendant in the case. Harutyunyan faces 27 charges.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment.

“On a national level, healthcare fraud continues to milk billions of dollars annually from government-funded health plans and private health insurers,” Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said in a statement. “Healthcare fraud affects us all. These criminals not only squander health funds for underserved populations who truly warrant subsidized aid, they also affect the average consumer who is hit in the pocketbook by fraud-related costs incurred by private health companies.”

All six men are due to be arraigned Tuesday in Department 30 in Los Angeles Criminal Justice Center.


 RYAN VAILLANCOURT covers business, politics and the foothills. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at ryan.vaillancourt@latimes.com.

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