SHERMAN OAKS—A total of nine people were charged for their involvement in a $24 million phony billing scam that involved interpreting services across Southern California, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Friday, January 15.
The defendants are being charged with conspiracy and insurance fraud. At the head of the scheme were Francisco Javier Gomez Jr., 32, and his sister Angela Rehman, 38, who were running the Sherman Oaks business G&G Interpreting Services that provided Spanish interpreters at various medical clinics.
From the years 2007 to 2013, the culprits participated in the scam to take defraud dozens of insurance companies by creating and submitting invoices for services that were never performed. They billed for Spanish translation services that patients who did not need or utilize interpreters and at clinics that were staffed with doctors who fluently spoke Spanish. The defendants also billed for “services purportedly provided by interpreters who never worked at the clinics,” states a press release from the District Attorney’s Office.
Some of the defendants created fake invoices for interpreting services allegedly provided by an employee who was in a state jail when she was supposed to be working. More than $80 million in invoices were billed to insurance companies. Over $24 million was determined to be fraudulent by investigators.
“People often make the mistake of thinking insurance fraud is a victimless crime-it is not,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “When those providing services to injured workers line their pockets by ripping-off workers’ compensation insurers through fraudulent overbilling practices and charging for services that never occurred, we all end up paying.”
Other defendants in the case include Melissa Navarro, 29, of Sylmar, Gloria Sandoval, 42, of Lake Balboa, Crystal Lynette Garcia, 22, of Lake Balboa, Cynthia Gomez, 31, of Sherman Oaks, Amber Anguiano, 29, of Saugus, Jamilett Ortega, 34, of Lake Balboa and Arnulfo Reyes III, 23, of Reseda.
Bail has been set at $400,000 for each defendant. If convicted of charges, they can face sentences ranging from 13 to 20 years in state prison. The case is still under investigation by the California Department of Insurance. Deputy District Attorney Angela Brunson of the Healthcare Fraud Division is prosecuting the case.