Justice Department flag in Washington
Justice Department flag in Washington. File photo

The former CEO of several Southern California medical imaging companies was convicted by a San Diego federal jury Friday of orchestrating a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims for medical services were fraudulently submitted through the state workers’ compensation system.

Sam Sarkis Solakyan, 40, of Glendale, was found guilty of running a “cross-referral” scheme in which physicians received money or new patient referrals in exchange for the referral of workers’ compensation patients, according to the Department of Justice.

Prosecutors say patients were referred to Solakyan’s companies for treatments that were billed to insurance companies. Defendants then entered into “various sham agreements” to conceal the true nature of the bribes and kickbacks, such as contracts for various services like marketing, administrative services and scheduling.

The DOJ said Solakyan’s recruiters required physicians to refer a minimum number of patients in order to receive money and/or “cross-referrals.” If physicians didn’t meet the quota, the bribes and referrals stopped.

Solakyan was the CEO of San Diego MRI Institute and also operated diagnostic imaging facilities throughout the state, including in the Bay Area, as well as San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the DOJ said.

Following an eight-day trial, he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and 11 counts of honest services mail fraud. Solakyan faces a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison when he is sentenced Oct. 4 before U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant, according to the Department of Justice.