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Pa. Couple Charged With $4.4M Medicare Fraud

A federal grand jury has charged a Philadelphia couple that ran an ambulance service with allegedly filing $4.4 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for transporting patients who did not need the service.

Beana Bell, who owns Superior EMS Ambulance Co. in Huntingdon Valley, and her husband, Vadim Fleshler, are accused of recruiting and paying dialysis patients up to $500 a month to use their service, even when the patients could walk.

Fleshler, 32, and Bell, 31, were arrested Wednesday morning by federal agents. According to Pennsylvania Department of State records, their business was formed in 2009 and based at 2915 Franks Rd.

The business phone is disconnected, and the two could not be reached for comment.

Superior is the latest in a string of local ambulance services prosecuted for fraudulent billing.

Prosecutors say the Superior owners' scheme lasted from September 2010 through August. The indictment, which was returned Tuesday and unsealed Wednesday, said patients who did not need an ambulance "were directed to get onto a stretcher."

Sometimes, Fleshler would also transport individuals in his own car, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Most of the patients required no medical care during transportation, but Bell and Fleshler allegedly filed falsified Medicare "trip sheets" to suggest services were provided.

Medicare lost more than $2.4 million on the fraudulent claims, prosecutors said.

Patricia Hartman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said the office had recently filed about a half-dozen similar cases. In May, a Northeast Philadelphia man was sentenced to serve 92 months after he illegally obtained a license to run an ambulance service and targeted dialysis patients who could have driven or walked to their appointments.

267-746-0207 @tricianadolny

Copyright 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

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