Former San Diego Healthcare CEO Convicted of Fraud
Sam Sarkis Solakyan, 40, of Glendale, was convicted by a San Diego federal jury of orchestrating a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims for medical services were fraudulently submitted through the state workers’ compensation system.
According to the US Department of Justice, “Solakyan conspired with Steven Rigler, a Solana Beach-based chiropractor; Fermin Iglesias, the former CEO of MedEx Solutions, a patient-scheduling company; and others to perpetrate a scheme in which physicians were paid bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the referral of workers’ compensation patients.” Also known as a cross-referral scheme, the compensation offered to the corrupt doctors consisted of either cash or referrals of new patients.
The conspirators entered into various sham agreements, such as contracts for “marketing”, “administrative services”, and “scheduling”, to obscure the true nature of their financial relationships. In reality, the money paid by Solakyan amounted to volume-based, per- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan bribes and kickbacks to induce physicians to refer and continue referring patients to Solakyan’s companies.
Solakyan’s recruiters — Fermin Iglesias and Carlos Arguello — earned more than $8.6 million for obtaining MRI referrals. These payments were concealed from patients and health insurance companies.
According to the US Department of Justice:
- Rigler pleaded guilty in November 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and was sentenced to six months in federal prison.
- Arguello pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in April 2019 to four years in federal prison.
- Iglesias pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in February 2019 to five years in federal prison.
An October 4 sentence hearing has been scheduled, at which time Solakyan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.
Solakyan was the CEO of several medical-imaging companies, including San Diego MRI Instute and Glendale-based Vital Imaging Inc. He operated diagnostic imaging facilities throughout California, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and the Bay Area.