California Man Pleads Guilty to stealing government for personal use

California Man Pleads Guilty to stealing government for personal use

A California man pleaded guilty today in the Central District of California to stealing government funds designed to aid medical providers in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 and using them for his own personal benefit.

According to court documents, Grigor Garibyan, 36, of North Hollywood, admitted that he owned GMA Home Health Inc. (GMA), a home health agency in Van Nuys, which closed around June 2019. GMA, which was never operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, received approximately $57,591 designated for the medical treatment and care of COVID-19 patients.

Garibyan admitted he stole the funds by transferring and spending them for his own personal use, rather than using the funds in conjunction with pandemic relief efforts as required.

Garibyan pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of government property. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16 and faces up to 10 years in prison for each count.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The charges against Garibyan resulted from his intentional misuse of funds distributed from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, money specially apportioned by the CARES Act to help health care providers who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide care to patients who were suffering from COVID-19, and to compensate providers for the cost of that care.

These funds were critical to delivering relief to health care providers and maintaining access to medical care during the pandemic.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California; and Special Agent in Charge Timothy B. Francesca of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Los Angeles Regional Office made the announcement.

Trial Attorney Chris Wenger and Senior Litigation Counsel Jim Hayes of the National Rapid Response Strike Force of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

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