The DOJ announced that Artur Chanchikyan, owner of home health agency Gentle Touch Home Health Care Inc. (Gentle Touch), pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining $345,108 in COVID-19 pandemic relief loans.
According to the DOJ, Chanchikyan applied for a $160,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on behalf of Gentle Touch around April 2020. Chanchikyan fabricated Gentle Touch’s number of employees and monthly payroll expenses. Chanchikyan’s application also included false certifications that the loan proceeds would be used for permissible business purposes. Similarly, Chanchikyan applied for a low-interest loan from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program around July 2020. Again, Chanchikyan misrepresented Gentle Touch’s number of employees and plans for the loan proceeds. As a result of Chanchikyan falsified applications, he received $159,900 in EIDL proceeds and $45,472 in PPP loan proceeds. Chanchikyan also received $139,736 from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program, which automatically distributes funds to some health care providers impacted by COVID-19. According to Court documents, Chanchikyan used the foregoing funds for his own personal benefit.
Prior to Chanchikyan’s loan applications, he was placed under Medicare payment suspension based on allegations of fraud. Chanchikyan now faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud on August 25, 2023. A federal judge is scheduled to sentence Chanchikyan on December 5, 2023.
Chilivis Grubman has provided practice tips to ensure continued compliance with COVID-19 relief funds and urges providers to remain vigilant.
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