Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

News

OxyContin Ring Bilked Medicare, Brought 1 Million Pills to Black Market

doctors-california-database.jpg
Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

This week federal and state authorities announced that they were cracking down on a ring that bilked medicare out of 1 million pills that went for $23 to $27 a pop on the black market.

Authorities charged 14 people, including two doctors, who ran the scheme out of a clinic called Lake Medical Group on West 8th Street. The scheme that went like this: "cappers" would find people who were eligible for Medicare and bring them back to the clinic. The doctors would write up prescriptions the patients didn't need — and sometimes they would pretend to run tests as well, to make the scheme look legit. These "patients" were paid for their time. (Other patients simply had their beneficiary information stolen.) The "runners" would take these Medicare patients to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions and bring them back to the clinic. Then they would sell the pills on the black market at massive mark-ups — some prescriptions were free through Medicare and could be re-sold for up $1,200 a bottle.

The leaders of the scheme Mike Mikaelian and Anjelika Sanamian are defendants in the case, as well as doctors Morris Halfon and Eleanor Santiago and pharmacist owner Theodore Yoon. The indictment alleges a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, a conspiracy to commit health care fraud, substantive health care fraud charges, and unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs.

"The two-year investigation into this organization reveals the sophisticated nature of today’s drug traffickers," said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., in a statement. "With a medical clinic and doctors to lend it legitimacy, the organization not only flooded the streets of Los Angeles with an extremely dangerous narcotic, it also bilked a government-run program designed to help the poor and elderly."

Most Read