After two years on the run from authorities, health care clinic owner Irina Shelikhova has been apprehended and subsequently sentenced for her role in an elaborate Medicare fraud scheme.
Shelikhova was the owner of a Brooklyn, New York medical clinic. The clinic was billing Medicare under three corporate names: Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC, and SZS Medical Care PLLC. All of these entities were known collectively as Bay Medical Clinic. As owner of these clinics, Shelikhova masterminded a scheme from 2005 to 2010 to pay kickbacks to her "patients" in order to bill Medicare approximately $77 million in medical services that were either never provided or unnecessary. According to testimony, the owner went so far as to hire a medically unlicensed person to act as a doctor to provide medical care to her patients. She also directed her staff to make fake notations in patients' medical files and charts to assist with the bogus billing.
In order to facilitate the large amount of cash needed to pay her patients kickbacks, Shelikhova employed a gaggle of money launderers. She would write checks drawn on the medical clinic to several shell companies that were controlled by her network of money launderers. In turn, the launderers would cash the checks and give the cash back to the clinic. Patients were paid $50 or more to allow the clinic to bill Medicare for bogus medical services. From April to June 2010, approximately $500,000 was paid in kickbacks by Shelikhova to patients.
Shelikhova was originally indicted in July 2010. However, she fled the country and hid out in the Ukraine for two years. Upon her return to the U.S., Shelikhova was apprehended at the JFK airport in New York.
Shelikhova plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. She has been sentenced to serve fifteen years in prison; three years of supervised release with a concurrent exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal healthcare programs; ordered to forfeit $36,241,545; and ordered to pay $50,943,386 in restitution. Thirteen other co-conspirators have also been convicted in this case; one of those being Shelikhova's son.