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Lab Owners Charged With COVID-19 Testing Fraud, Tax Evasion in Separate Cases

NEW YORK — The US Department of Justice said Wednesday that the owners of Innovative Genomics, an independent laboratory, have been charged in a $36 million COVID-19 testing fraud scheme.

Also, a Burbank man who owned a blood testing lab has been indicted on charges of tax evasion.

According to the DOJ, the lab's owners — Enrique Perez-Paris, Diego Sanudo Sanchez Chocron, and Gregory Charles Caskey — allegedly conspired between late 2019 and mid-2023 to submit healthcare benefit claims for medically unnecessary and nonreimbursable COVID-19 testing. The defendants also allegedly paid illegal kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters who arranged for healthcare providers to refer the tests to Innovative Genomics.

At times, the defendants allegedly caused Medicare and the Health Resources and Services Administration COVID-19 Uninsured Program to be improperly billed for tests for Medicare beneficiaries. They also billed for tests that had not received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, according to the DOJ.

All three men have been charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud, three counts of healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the conspiracy counts and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each healthcare fraud count, the government said.

Separately, a grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Burbank man for evading payment of about $5.8 million in federal taxes by illegally collecting Medicare reimbursements made to his blood testing company.

According to the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, Armen Muradyan owned and operated Genex Laboratories, which was reimbursed millions of dollars for blood tests. The money was wired to bank accounts to an individual identified as "L.S." in court documents. L.S. was a longtime friend of Muradyan who offered the individual $2,000 per month to pretend to be the owner of Genex. Muradyan told L.S. to submit Medicare enrollment papers to Medicare on behalf of Genex because Muradyan had been banned from submitting claims to the program.

The two opened Genex bank accounts in L.S.'s name although Muradyan controlled the accounts and L.S. neither owned nor operated Genex, according to the US attorney's office.

Through a series of schemes, Muradyan amassed unreported income of more than $16.2 million between 2015 and 2020, though he reported an annual average income of $40,000 between those years. As a result, his federal income tax due and owed by him amount to almost $5.8 million.

Muradyan has been charged with one count of tax evasion and is scheduled to be arraigned in US District Court in downtown Los Angeles on April 29.