Philadelphia Money Launderer Pleads Guilty in Connection with Brooklyn Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Philadelphia resident pleaded guilty today for his role as a money launderer in a $13 million health care fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI’s New York Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

Leonid Zalkind, 36, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York.   At sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 2, 2013, Zalkind faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

According to court documents, from 2010 to 2012, Zalkind operated numerous shell companies and bank accounts through which he laundered the proceeds of health care fraud from Brooklyn clinic Cropsey Medical Care PLLC.  Zalkind conspired with others to accept checks from Cropsey Medical, which were made payable to various shell companies Zalkind controlled.   These checks did not represent payment for any legitimate service at, or by, Cropsey Medical, but rather were written to launder Cropsey Medical’s fraudulently obtained health care proceeds.   Zalkind admitted at the plea proceeding that he deposited such checks into bank accounts he controlled, intending these transactions to hide and disguise the fact that these funds were proceeds of a crime.  He admitted that he knew these funds were proceeds of illegal activity.

The proceeds of checks Zalkind negotiated and cashed were given to the owners and operators of Cropsey Medical and were used to pay illegal cash kickbacks to Cropsey Medical’s purported patients.  According to court documents, from approximately November 2009 to October 2012, Cropsey Medical submitted more than $13 million in claims to Medicare and Medicaid, seeking reimbursement for a wide variety of fraudulent medical services and procedures, including physician office visits, physical therapy and diagnostic tests.

Eight individuals await trial, including a doctor, owners and employees of Cropsey Medical clinics and other individuals who paid and received kickbacks to induce the referral and transportation of patients to the clinic, as well as individuals who laundered funds for Cropsey Medical.  Trial has not yet been scheduled.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shannon Jones and Ilene Jaroslaw of the Eastern District of New York.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Axius CEO Roland Kaufmann Sentenced for Conspiracy to Pay Bribes in Stock Sales

Roland Kaufmann, CEO of Axius Inc., was sentenced today to serve 16 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to bribe purported stock brokers and manipulate the stock of a company he controlled, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.

Kaufmann, 60, a Swiss citizen, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.  In addition to his prison term, Kaufmann was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $450,000.

Kaufmann pleaded guilty in January 2013 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act in connection with a scheme to bribe stock brokers to purchase the common stock of a company he controlled and to manipulate its stock price.  As part of his plea agreement, Kaufmann forfeited $298,740 gained through this crime.

According to court documents, Kaufmann controlled Axius, Inc., a purported holding company and business incubator located in Dubai.  As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirator, Jean Pierre Neuhaus, enlisted the assistance of an individual who they believed had access to a group of corrupt stock brokers, but who was, in fact, an undercover law enforcement agent.  Court documents reveal that they instructed the undercover agent to direct brokers to purchase Axius shares in return for a secret kickback of approximately 26 to 28 percent of the share price.  Kaufman and Neuhaus also instructed the undercover agent as to the price the brokers should pay for the stock and that the brokers were to refrain from selling the Axius shares they purchased on behalf of their clients for a one-year period.  By preventing sales of Axius stock, Kaufmann and Neuhaus intended to maintain the fraudulently inflated share price for Axius stock.

Jean Pierre Neuhaus has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for his role in the scheme.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Justin Goodyear of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw, with assistance from Fraud Section Trial Attorney Nathan Dimock.  The case was investigated by the FBI New York Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service New York Field Office.  The Department also recognizes the substantial assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.