HomeCity NewsGlendale Resident, a Former Co-Owner of Medical Lab, Sentenced to Prison

Glendale Resident, a Former Co-Owner of Medical Lab, Sentenced to Prison

By City News Service

A Glendale resident and former co-owner of a Los Angeles County medical laboratory was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years behind bars for his role in a fraud scheme that exploited the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in false billings and theft from federal programs.
Imran Shams, 65, was also ordered to pay $31.7 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release following prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
He pleaded guilty one year ago to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. His wife, Lourdes Navarro, 65, pleaded guilty in October to the conspiracy count and a wire fraud charge.
Shams and Navarro ran Baldwin Park-based Matias Clinical Laboratory Inc., also known as Health Care Providers Laboratory. The lab performed COVID-19 screening tests for nursing homes and other facilities with vulnerable elderly populations, as well as primary and secondary schools.
To increase reimbursements, the couple fraudulently added claims for respiratory pathogen panel tests even though providers and facility administrators did not want or need them, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Navarro and Shams submitted, through their lab, about $359 million in claims for the unnecessary tests to Medicare, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s COVID-19 Uninsured Program, and an insurance company, and were reimbursed roughly $54 million.
The DOJ said the couple paid kickbacks for specimens and test orders, and laundered profits through shell companies and the purchase of real estate, luxury items and personal goods and services.
Shams had been excluded from all participation in Medicare since he and Navarro were convicted in 2000 on felony counts of Medi Cal fraud, grand theft, money laundering and identity theft, according to court documents.
The couple concealed Shams’ role in the lab and his prior convictions, the DOJ said.

First published in the February 10 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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