La Verne man, Duarte man arrested in Medi-Cal fraud case

Officials arrested nine people Thursday, including two San Gabriel Valley residents, on suspicion of stealing money from both the Medi-Cal system and senior citizens.
The alleged scam involved employees of Montclair-based Community Extended Care Hospital and their associates who are accused of stealing more than $150,000 from patients and defrauding Medi-Cal, California Department of Justice officials said in a written statement.
“This scam ripped off both senior citizens and our desperately needed public health funds,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown. “These thieves callously stole thousands of state dollars meant to be spent on seniors in this skilled nursing facility.”
David Carmona, 74, of LaVerne, and Andy Tricas, 46, of Duarte were among those arrested during the five-month long investigation, authorities said. They and all the other suspects were being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the San Bernardino County Jail.
Carmona was the neighbor of another suspect, who has since died, and Tricas was the boyfriend of the now-deceased suspect.
Seven other suspects from throughout Southern California were also arrested Thursday morning, according to the D.O.J. statement. A tenth person charged in the case, Maribel Velazquez, 36, New Mexico, remained at large.
The alleged scam took place from 2006 to 2009, officials said.
After billing Medi-Cal for 100 percent of some patients bills, hospital employees are accused of soliciting additional money from elderly patients and their families, according to the D.O.J. The suspects allegedly placed the money in a patient trust accounts, then wrote checks on those accounts for their own gain.
“The scam involved hospital employees writing checks, ranging from $250 to $6,900, from the patient accounts to individuals in the gang, including a UPS driver, their own relatives, and a next door neighbor, who would then cash the checks, take a percentage of the stolen funds and return most of the cash to the hospital employees,” the D.O.J. statement said.
The investigation into the hospital, carried out by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, began in January following a preliminary investigation by the California Department of Health Care Services, officials said.

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