The owners of Alpha Ambulance Inc. (Alpha), a now-defunct Los Angeles-area ambulance transportation company, have been sentenced in connection with a Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Assistant Director in Charge Bill L. Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Aleksey Muratov, aka Russ Muratov, 32, and Alex Kapri, aka Alex Kapriyelov or Alexander Kapriyelov, 56, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins in the Central District of California to serve 108 months and 75 months in prison, respectively. Both Kapri and Muratov pleaded guilty on Oct. 28, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Muratov and Kapri were owners and operators of Alpha, which specialized in the provision of non-emergency ambulance transportation services to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, primarily dialysis patients.

According to court documents, Muratov and Kapri knowingly provided non-emergency ambulance transportation to Medicare beneficiaries whose medical condition at that time did not require ambulance transportation. With Kapri’s knowledge, Muratov and others at Alpha instructed certain Alpha employees to conceal the Medicare beneficiaries’ medical conditions by altering required documents for Medicare reimbursement and creating fraudulent justifications for the transportation. The defendants caused Alpha to submit claims to Medicare that were fraudulent because the transportation was not medically necessary.

Additionally, as the defendants were submitting these false claims, Medicare notified Alpha that the company would be subject to a Medicare audit. In response, Muratov instructed Alpha employees – with Kapri’s knowledge – to alter specific documents that would be submitted to Medicare in response to the audit and create false justifications for transportation of the beneficiaries identified.

From at least June 2008 through at least July 2012, Alpha submitted more than $49 million in claims for ambulance transportation. As a result, Medicare paid Alpha more than $13 million for these claims, many of which were fraudulent.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Alexander F. Porter and Assistant Chief O. Benton Curtis III of the Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.