Jon Campisi May 16, 2013, 7:13am

The so-called leader of a suburban Philadelphia ambulance scam involving healthcare

fraud has been sentenced to more than seven-and-a-half years in federal prison.

William Hlushmanuk, 35, a city resident, was sentenced on May 14 to 92 months behind bars by Senior U.S. District Judge John R. Padova, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Hlushmanuk pleaded guilty earlier this year to healthcare fraud and conspiracy for his participation in a scam to defraud Medicare and Medicaid by billing for unnecessary ambulance services.

In his guilty plea, Hlushmanuk admitted that between May 2006 and April 2011, he and his co-conspirators recruited and transported ambulance patients who were capable of walking, knowing that Medicare doesn’t reimburse for patients who don’t require ambulatory services.

Hlushmanuk, who has gone by the alias “Bill Le,” also falsely registered his business in another person’s name due to the fact that the state Department of Health had previously barred him from owning and operating an ambulance company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hlushmanuk admitted that he served as the ringleader of the conspiracy, which netted more than $5.4 million from Medicare and Medicaid.

In addition to his federal prison stint, Hlushmanuk was ordered by Judge Padova to repay the amount of defrauded funds.

He must also undergo three years’ supervised release after he finishes his prison term.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Foulkes and trial attorney Adam L. Small of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

According to the June 2012 indictment, which was originally filed under seal and later unsealed, Hlushmanuk ran the Bensalem private ambulance company called Starcare Ambulance Inc.

Bensalem is located in Lower Bucks County, just outside of Philadelphia.

In Padova’s sentencing memorandum, the judge wrote that while the co-conspirators in the case, identified as Jacqueline Diana, Hlushmanuk’s now-estranged wife, and Roman Bayger, the acquaintance who acted as the straw owner of the ambulance company, have pleaded guilty to “significantly less serious conduct,” Hlushmanuk ultimately organized the entire scheme, “and, more than anyone else, reaped its benefits. His conduct merits the lengthiest sentence of the three co-schemers.”

In April, the Pennsylvania Record reported on two other similar cases involving ambulance companies’ defrauding of Medicare and Medicaid.

They were the case of Philadelphia resident Feda Kuran, 37, who was charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud the Medicare program out of $2.5 million, and brothers Aleksandr and Sergey Zagorodny, two brothers who pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicare out of $2.5 million through a scheme run through their Bucks County company, MedEx Ambulance Inc.

Kuran, who operated Brotherly Love Ambulance Inc., was charged in a criminal information with healthcare fraud and violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

A criminal information generally signals that a defendant is planning to plead guilty.

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