BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The state Department of Insurance says a second dental assistant from the same office has been charged with insurance fraud, identity theft and grand theft after allegedly falsifying insurance claims.
Alma Almendariz, 35, was booked Wednesday into Kern County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on 67 felonies, according to the department and court website. She’s held on $690,000 bail.
Almendariz used insider knowledge to submit fraudulent insurance claims to AFLAC for procedures that were not performed, according to a Department of Insurance release. She is accused of submitting 23 fraudulent claims for her and her son and receiving $10,165 from AFLAC.
Maria Uranday, who worked at the same dental office as Almendariz, pleaded not guilty in June to similar charges and is next due in court in August. The dental office was not named in the news release.
A Glendale man was sentenced to three-plus years in prison for stealing the identities of at least 11 dentists and filing fraudulent claims to banks that offer lines of credit to dentists, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday.
Ararat Yesayan, 39, was ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution. In May he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
From October 2010 to March 2014, Yesayan and co-conspirators impersonated dentists via personal identifying information such as dental license numbers, according to the Department of Justice statement.
Those involved in the conspiracy acquired commercial office space in the names of victim dentists using this personal information, and then submitted change of address requests to the Dental Board of California. Mail was sent to the newly opened sham offices, among them offers for lines of credit.
“Using the victim dentists’ names, Yesayan and others applied for lines of credit offered by banks to dentists and, upon approval, submitted numerous fraudulent dental claims in the names of fake patients for procedures that were never performed,” the Department of Justice said in its statement.
Once the claims were approved by the banks, money was wired to Yesayan-controlled bank accounts. Banks affected include Citibank and GE Capital Retail Finance Bank, now Synchrony Bank.
Two other Glendale men were allegedly involved in the scheme, Varooj Arakelian, 49, and Artin Sarkissians, 42. Arakelian is scheduled to go on trial June 23.
Thousand Oaks Patrol deputies were dispatched to a report of fraudulent prescription activity in Newbury Park. The investigating deputy learned that Kristina Vargas worked in a dental office and had fraudulently used a dentist’s information to obtain Carisoprodol (also known as Soma) for herself on 11 separate occasions dating back to September of 2018. Once the initial information was obtained, the investigating deputy contacted the Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit for assistance. Detectives gathered evidence and conducted multiple interviews confirmed the fraudulent prescriptions.
On December 31, 2019, Vargas was located and arrested in Newbury Park for 11173(a) HS – obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, 470(b) PC –forgery and 459 PC – commercial burglary. Vargas was interviewed and then booked into custody at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility in Ventura. Vargas bailed out of custody and her next court date is set for January 17, 2020 for her arraignment.
Prosperident’s Hall of Shame is the place where we profile embezzlers and some of their antics.
Understandably, some of the people profiled there would be happier if we removed them from our website. Occasionally, we receive a genuine request for removal, but many of the removal requests involve the embezzler or someone close to them doing what they do best — lying to us about why the content should be removed. (For a particularly hilarious example of someone trying this, please click HERE.)
We recently received another good one. We have profiled someone named Hector Ramos of Murrieta, CA, who was arraigned in 2017 for allegedly embezzling $800,000 from a not-for-profit health organization in California.
Today we were contacted by someone who gave their name as John Aberdeen. Initially this person claimed to be a journalist owning the copyright for a story we posted about Hector Ramos. (click HERE for our original story).
We reviewed our content. Our initial story was taken (with proper attribution, of course) from a California newspaper, but the author was listed as “Teri Figeroa,”not John Aberdeen, and we could not find any record of a John Aberdeen at that newspaper, or any other paper in California. Neither the phone number nor email address provided by Mr. “Aberdeen” checked out. Also, this person’s poor grammar and apparent slow typing speed made it unlikely that he was the author of the article.
So, we didn’t take down our content, as we had promised Mr. “Aberdeen.” Instead we rewrote it and added a bit of information.
Mr. Aberdeen quickly contacted us again through our website, but now his story changed and he claimed to be a member of Mr. Ramos’ legal team. When our customer service representative challenged him on this assertion, his story changed yet again, and he told us we would hear from his lawyers (interesting, when he had just claimed to be one).
The transcript of our online chat, reproduced below, makes for entertaining reading.
john aberdeen 9:09 AM joined the chat (Prosperident Staffer) 9:09 AM joined the chat (Prosperident Staffer) 9:10 AM Good morning john aberdeen 9:10 AM Good Morning (Prosperident Staffer) 9:10 AM How can we help you today? john aberdeen 9:10 AM Can you connect me with your technical team. (Prosperident Staffer) 9:11 AM Certainly. Are you a dentist? john aberdeen 9:11 AM No (Prosperident Staffer) 9:12 AM Ok. If you tell me how we can help, I can connect you with the right person here. john aberdeen 9:14 AM I found my copy righted work on your website you need to remove content on immediate basis. (Prosperident Staffer) 9:15 AM I’m sorry about that. We will correct it right now. Do you have a URL or other information so that I can find the right page? john aberdeen 9:16 AMhttps://www.prosperident.com/head-of-it-department-accused-of-embezzling-800k-from-california-non-profit-clinic/ original url https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-nonprofit-theft-charges-20171201-story.html (Prosperident Staffer) 9:16 AM Thanks for letting me know. I’ll have it removed within the next hour, and I’ll email you when it is done. john aberdeen 9:17 AM ok thank you (Prosperident Staffer) 9:17 AM Is there anything else we can help with? john aberdeen 9:18 AM no thank you (Prosperident Staffer) 9:19 AM Have a good day, Mr. Aberdeen
Second contact: john aberdeen 9:59 AM joined the chat john aberdeen 10:00 AM Hi (Prosperident Staffer) 10:00 AM joined the chat john aberdeen 10:00 AM This side john aberdeen (Prosperident Staffer) 10:01 AM Hi Mr. Aberdeen john aberdeen 10:01 AM i sanded you request to remove the content but your team update the content https://www.prosperident.com/head-of-it-department-accused-of-embezzling-800k-from-california-non-profit-clinic/ (Prosperident Staffer) 10:01 AM Yes we did. john aberdeen 10:01 AM why (Prosperident Staffer) 10:02 AM We updated it to remove copyrighted information. john aberdeen 10:02 AM I think you not understand (Prosperident Staffer) 10:02 AM I think you’re right. It doesn’t look like you actually own the copyright on this information. And I’m pretty sure you’re not a journalist. So what’s the real issue? john aberdeen 10:03 AM i am not a journalist i am legal team (Prosperident Staffer) 10:03 AM I see. john aberdeen 10:04 AM your admin copy our website content we not authorized you to use our content. (Prosperident Staffer) 10:04 AM That’s interesting, because the first time you contacted us, you indicated that you owned the copyright. What is “our content”? What law firm are you with? I deal with attorneys on a daily basis, and I’m pretty sure you are not one. john aberdeen 10:08 AM if you think then we go legal you don’t worry (Prosperident Staffer) 10:09 AM We look forward to hearing from your lawyers. We will have a wonderful discussion with him about the First Amendment.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three Northern California residents were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. for crimes relating to their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
Surjit Singh, 72, of Dublin, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison, his son, Rajeshwar Singh, 44, of Pleasanton, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison on four counts of mail fraud, four counts of bank fraud, and four counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Anita Sharma, 56, of Gilroy, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison on two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Surjit Singh was ordered to pay a $2 million fine, $698,787 in restitution, and $847,000 in forfeiture. Raj Singh was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, $928,287 in restitution, and $838,399 in forfeiture. Anita Sharma was ordered to pay $603,180 in restitution and $30,000 in forfeiture.
According to court documents, in 2006 and 2007, Surjit Singh recruited individuals with good credit to act as straw buyers for residential properties owned by his family members and associates. Rajeshwar Singh, a licensed real estate agent, assisted in the scheme by submitting loan applications for the straw buyers. Anita Sharma, a dental assistant at the time, was one of the straw buyers. Because Sharma and the other straw buyers could not afford the homes based on their true incomes, the Singhs submitted fraudulent loan applications and supporting material to lending institutions that included false statements about the straw buyers’ income, employment, liabilities, and intent to occupy the homes as their primary residences.
At least 14 properties were involved in the scheme. Anita Sharma alone purchased five homes in San Jose, San Ramon, Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Modesto. Other straw buyers purchased or refinanced properties in Stockton, Modesto, Patterson, Lathrop and Tracy. All of these homes were ultimately either foreclosed upon or sold in a short sale where the bank lets homeowners sell their homes for less than is owed on the mortgage.
Sharma was paid for her involvement in the scheme. Rajeshwar Singh received financial benefits through broker commissions for the transactions and as the seller of seven of the properties. He also continued to occupy the San Ramon property at a time when Anita Sharma should have been living there. Surjit Singh benefitted through payments out of escrow directed to shell companies, such as SJR Investments and BK Investments, which were associated with his daughter and significant other, whose initials are SJR and BK respectively. These payments were purportedly for contracting services, which did not occur. He also benefitted through rental payments made to him and his significant other by the renters of the homes, as the straw buyers were not living in the homes. In addition, many of his family members received money by selling properties and had money directed to them out of escrow. According to court documents and evidence produced at trial, the defendants were responsible for the origination of more than $9.3 million in fraudulently procured residential mortgage loans.
Surjit Singh is in custody. Rajeshwar Singh and Anita Sharma are scheduled to self‑surrender on January 9, 2019.
Apparently Ms. Morales’ various legal troubles have not stopped her from looking for employment in the dental field. Our friend, consultant and dental image expert Janice Hurley, recently caught Karla applying for a job with a practice in Bakersfield CA.
Janice kindly supplied this recent picture of Karla.
A Bakersfield dental office employee has been arrested after failing to pay back monies stolen during a fraud scheme.
In June 2018, 42-year-old Karla Morales was charged with 45 felonies, including insurance fraud, identity theft, forgery, and grand theft after Department of Insurance detectives discovered she had submitted 78 fraudulent dental insurance claim forms for services she or her family never received. The fraud amounted to over $46,000.
Her husband, 47-year-old Raymundo Morales Jr. was also charged in connection to the fraud.
In November 2018 Morales was sentenced to one year in jail, five years probation, and ordered to pay restitution.
On Wednesday, Morales was arrested for failing to pay the restitution and is being held without bail in the Kern County Jail.
Prosperident note — there is a Raymond Morales, formerly of Delano, CA, with date of birth June 25, 1956, who is a registered sex offender. We wonder if this is the same Raymondo Morales named in the article.
North County Health Services, is suing this man, Hector Ramos, for allegedly embezzling $800,000 from the organization.
North County Health Services provides health care, including dentistry, to low-income residents of California.
Mr. Ramos, who was residing in Murrieta, CA at the time, has also been charged with a number of criminal offenses. Bail was set at $1 million, with an additional stipulation that if posted, that proof of the legitimacy of the source of bail funds be provided.
Mr. Ramos allegedly created two fraudulent corporations that invoiced North County Health Services for purchases of computer hardware. Instead, it is alleged that funds were used to pay for trips, clothing, and a large payment to a Porsche dealership.
Mr. Ramos’s biographical information from a North county Health Services PowerPoint presentation indicates that he has been with the organization since 2014, has two graduate degrees, and speaks four languages.
Mr. Ramos has been arraigned and has pled not guilty to 49 charges.
When you go to the dentist, you might have a number of things extracted … molars, wisdom teeth, and, of course, your dignity, when the novocaine shot makes its first appearance. However, there’s probably one thing you wouldn’t expect to see yanked out at a dental office … the lawn.
That’s right, I said the lawn. As in the thing children play on, dogs lie on and trashy people park on.
But that’s exactly what happened to one Southern California mom and pop dental office — because, you see, in Crime-afornia, not even our government-subsided plastic grass is safe from the barbarians at the gate.
Recently, the Hometown dental office in Hesperia had its artificial grass stolen after someone came in the middle of the day and measured it before sending a crew of people to lift it over the weekend.
Kara Sweeney, the office director and wife of the dentist, James A. Sweeney, DDS, told me that the timing of the theft came as a particular punch to the gut, because it happened at the same time that the couple were pouring their savings into renovations to improve their family business.
“Our office manager saw it and assumed that I asked him to come out [and measure the grass] as part of the renovations we were doing. Then that weekend a neighbor across the street saw three men pulling the grass up. Apparently a police officer stopped them with a pedestrian check and one of them took off into the desert. The police officer shooed them away, I guess, but they returned that evening to finish stealing the grass! I guess they already had their measurements and knew it would be the piece for their project. We reported it to the police and I am hoping the pedestrian check helps them find who did it,” Sweeney explained.
Apparently, “taking off into the desert” after being confronted by the cops didn’t raise enough red flags to prompt further questioning. But with Propositions 47, 57 and AB 109 essentially giving criminals a free pass for crimes exactly like this, I guess you can’t really blame the police. They have bigger fish to fry than chasing “John Wilkes Tooth” through the Mojave Desert over some stolen Astroturf.
I asked Sweeney if she had any evidence that might be helpful for the police. She told me, “We did have cameras and they came and stole them too. We actually watched the man climb the ladder and snip the wire … that being said we are putting better new ones in and hopefully it will deter people. It’s an older neighborhood but doesn’t seem particularly scary to me or anything like that. It’s sad. I feel like with all the effort they should just get a real job … I think they would sleep better at night.”
Hesperia Sheriff’s Station service specialist Edgar Moran said that no arrests have been made, but the department is actively looking for three suspects, and is trying to make contact with the eyewitness.
Hopefully they will soon get in touch with the neighbor, and she’ll give them the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, so these thieves can be brought to justice.When I asked Sweeney what she plans on doing to pretty up the barren eyesore that now sits in front of her office, she said that part is still unclear. “We’re going back and forth on whether to file an insurance claim or not on the grass. We’re not even sure if it’s covered, to be honest with you. We got a quote for fixing our landscaping, not even replacing the grass because it’s so expensive, and it’s over $10,000. So that part is the part that makes me frustrated the most, of course,” she fretted.
That’s modern day California in a nutshell, for you — emboldened criminals take what they want with complete impunity, and law-abiding taxpayers get kicked in the grass.
A dentist pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony charges alleging that she performed unnecessary work on several patients in Daly City and then altered a judge’s order and stole someone’s identity to seek other dental jobs during her pending court case, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
Amishi Patel, 43, was a part-time dentist at Campus Heights Dental Care in Daly City, where she performed unnecessary dental work on at least eight patients between April 2014 and May 2015, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
The case came to light when the family of a patient contacted the Dental Board of California, which contacted the state Department of Insurance, which contacted the district attorney’s office about the alleged insurance fraud, Wagstaffe said.
Among the patients was a 16-year-old girl who Patel recommended receive 16 fillings. Patel performed eight of the fillings before the girl’s father became suspicious and took her for a second opinion, prosecutors said.
Three subsequent dentists determined the girl had no signs of cavities, did not need any fillings and said the eight fillings from Patel were so poorly performed that they needed to be replaced, prosecutors said.
Patel was charged this February for the cases in Daly City and a judge ordered her not to practice dentistry as a condition of her release on bail, but investigators eventually learned she had altered the order to make it appear that it had been rescinded days later, prosecutors said.
She used the altered order to get temporary employment as a dentist in Fremont, where she treated four patients.
Patel also called another dentist with a name similar to hers, pretending to be from a dental insurance company, and obtained the dentist’s license number that she then used to apply for several dental jobs in Fremont, including an interview attended by an undercover officer, prosecutors said.
Those cases took place between June and July of this year, Wagstaffe said.
Patel pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony insurance fraud, assault, identity theft and forgery on the condition that she receive a sentence of up to a year in county jail and a referral to mental health court, according to the district attorney’s office.
“She got a very light sentence,” Wagstaffe said of the plea deal, adding that San Mateo County Superior Court Donald Ayoob “had leniency for her because he thinks there are mental issues there.”
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to five years in state prison for Patel.
“We think the only mental issue is she’s a fraud,” Wagstaffe said.
The case will return to court on Jan. 12 for an intake conference for the mental health court and to set a sentencing date.
Patel’s defense attorney Jonathan McDougall was not immediately available for comment on the case.
Looking for a Prosperident speaker at your next event? Book Now