A federal jury convicted a California man yesterday for his role in an approximately $723,000 health care fraud and prescription drug diversion scheme involving two Southern California pharmacies.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Shahriar “Michael” Kalantari, 55, of Beverly Hills, generated false prescriptions as part of a health care fraud and unlicensed wholesale distribution scheme occurring in 2016 and 2017. Kalantari’s co-conspirators obtained beneficiary information, which Kalantari then used to write or cause to be written false and fraudulent prescriptions for expensive prescription medication, including drugs used to treat HIV. Kalantari’s co-conspirator then submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid of California through her two pharmacies for the drugs, which were never dispensed to the beneficiaries but, rather, provided to co-conspirators to sell on the black market.
Kalantari was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and conspiracy to engage in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24, 2023 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each of the health care fraud conspiracy and health care fraud counts, and a maximum penalty of five years for the unlicensed distribution counts. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Donald Alway of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy B. DeFrancesca of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Los Angeles Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The California Department of Justice provided valuable assistance.
Assistant Chief Alexis Gregorian and Trial Attorneys Justin Givens and Alex Michael of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, comprised of 15 strike forces operating in 24 federal districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $19 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.