A Newtown man who ran the day-to-day operations of an Olney-based private ambulance company for almost seven years was sentenced to 46 months in a federal lockup Tuesday for his role in a scheme to bilk Medicare.
U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn, Jr. also ordered Ivan Tkach, 30, to pay resititution of more than $1.2 million to Medicare. Yohn gave Tkach until June 15 to report to the Bureau of Prisons.
After a jury had been seated in January, Tkach abruptly pleaded guilty to making false statements and illegal kickbacks related to healthcare.
Authorities said Tkach took a position with a private ambulance company, Advantage Ambulance, as operations manager in February 2003 and remained with the business until it was sold by its owners, Alla and Ilya Sivchuk, wife and husband, in December 2009.
Tkach had been convicted in state court in 2001 of reckless endangerment after a patient died in his care, when a 911 call was illegally rerouted to a private ambulance he was driving, court papers said.
As a result of the conviction, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (which administers Medicare) advised Tkach in July 2001 that he wouldn't be able to provide services under Medicare. He was formally notified of the ban in September 2004, which was effective for five years, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan said in a sentencing memo.
Neither of Advantage's applications with state regulators or Medicare listed Tkach as an employee or revealed his criminal history during the period of the ban, Morgan said.
In fact, the prosecutor said that from 2003-09, Tkach's duties included running the company's daily operations, hiring and firing employeees and submitting bills to Medicare, among other managerial duties.
During that time, prosecutors alleged that Tkach directed Advantage employees to transport dialysis patients by ambulance who could walk or be transported by paratransit van. Prosecutors said he submitted false claims for medically unnecessary ambulance services that cost Medicare more than $1.2 million.
Tkach pleaded guilty to lying on an application in August 2009 for reinstatement to HHS that he was a "shop manager/mechanic" for Advantage from Feburary 2003 to the present.
He also pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks to a secretary at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine of $6,000 and $7,500 in February 2008 and August 2008 to ensure that the hospital's dialysis transport business would be sent to Advantage.
The Sivchuks were also charged in the case.
Alla Sivchuk was found not guilty at trial in November of making false statements related to healthcare. The charge involved an allegation she intentionally failed to list Tkach as an Advantage employee on a license application with the state Department of Health.
Ilya Sivchuk was found guilty at the same trial of telling federal agents that Tkach only worked for Advantage as a shop mechanic. Sentencing for Ilya has been continued pending a judge's decision on a defense motion for a new trial.