California man convicted of $723K health care fraud scheme

A Beverly Hills, California man was convicted on Tuesday in Federal court for his role in a $723,000 health care fraud and prescription drug diversion scheme at two pharmacies in Southern California, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Between 2016 and 2017, Shahriar “Michael” Kalantari, 55, falsified prescriptions as part of what court documents call a health care fraud and unlicensed wholesale distribution scheme.

Bottles of pills arranged in shelf at a drugstore
(iStock)

According to court documents and testimony provided during in court, Kalantari’s co-conspirators provided him with information about the person receiving the drugs.

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Kalantari would then use the information to falsify prescriptions for medications for expensive drugs like those used to treat HIV.

The prescription would then be sent to Medicare and Medicaid of California through Kalantari’s co-conspirator’s two Southern California pharmacies, though the drugs were never handed over to the beneficiaries, the DOJ said.

These illustrations, provided by drugmaker ViiV Healthcare on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, shows a rendering of the packaging and vials containing its new HIV treatment, Cabenuva, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting combo drug for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills that have been used for decades to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy(ViiV Healthcare via AP)

Instead, the drugs would be provided to co-conspirators to sell on the illegal market.

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Kalantari is convicted of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiracy to engage in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs.

He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years, with 10-year maximum sentences for each of the health care fraud convictions and a five-year maximum sentence for unlicensed distribution.

Department of Justice
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Kalantari’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2023.

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Both the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General investigated the case against Kalantari.

The Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Florida also helped with the investigation.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, the press release stated, leads efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program, which began in 2007.

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The program comprises 15 strike forces in 24 federal districts and has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have billed the Medicare program for more than $19 billion.