Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of NY
Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said that Pikus’s “key role in an elaborate scheme to steal and conceal tens of millions of dollars from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, was staggering in scope and deserving of the significant punishment he received…”
By Forum Staff
A manager of medical clinics in Queens and Brooklyn has been sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for his role in a massive healthcare kickback and money laundering conspiracy, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Aleksandr Pikus was also ordered by the Court to pay restitution in the amount of $23 million to Medicare, $16 million to Medicaid, $433,297 to the Internal Revenue Service, and forfeit $2,614,233.79.
Pikus was convicted in November 2019 of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the IRS.
According to the evidence presented at trial, over the course of nearly a decade, Pikus and his co-conspirators perpetrated a scheme through a series of medical clinics in Queens and Brooklyn that employed doctors, physical and occupational therapists and other medical professionals who were enrolled in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In return for illegal kickbacks, Pikus referred beneficiaries to these health care providers, who submitted claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Pikus and his co-conspirators then laundered a substantial portion of the proceeds of these claims through companies he controlled, including by cashing checks at several New York City check-cashing businesses. Pikus then failed to report that cash income to the IRS. Instead, Pikus used the cash to enrich himself and others and to pay kickbacks to patient recruiters, who, in turn, paid beneficiaries to receive treatment at the medical clinics. The evidence further established that Pikus and his co-conspirators used sham shell companies and fake invoices to conceal their illegal activities.
Federal authorities also noted at trial that Pikus used violent threats to protect his scheme. For example, he threatened a co-conspirator who was thinking about leaving the scheme by saying: “[Y]ou know, you[’re] already with us so the only way out is feet first through the door,” meaning “like in a body bag.” When a therapist left the Pikus Clinics, the defendant told a co-conspirator “I’m hearing that he might be trying to take patients from our clinics to that other clinic. . . tell him he better stop unless he likes his legs to be broken.”
“The defendant’s key role in an elaborate scheme to steal and conceal tens of millions of dollars from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, was staggering in scope and deserving of the significant punishment he received today,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme. “This Office takes very seriously its obligation to protect government funds that provide vital medical coverage counted upon by individuals and families who qualify because of their low income, disability or advanced years.”
According to prosecutors, more than 25 other individuals have pleaded guilty to or been convicted of participating in the scheme, including physicians, physical and occupational therapists, ambulette drivers and the owners of several of the shell companies used to launder the stolen money.