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Posted: Jun 8 2011, 01:29 AM
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Member No.: 4,371
Joined: 18-April 10
Armenian mob 'godfather' Armen Kazarian gets sweetheart deal for massive Medicare fraud scheme
BY Scott Shifrel, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Tuesday, June 7th 2011
An Armenian mob "godfather" who was facing a life sentence for a massive Medicare fraud scheme has cut a 3-year sweetheart deal with prosecutors.
The "vor" - an Armenian word similar to the word "don" used for Italian mob lords - admitted Monday to making threats and other crimes in exchange for the light sentence. The final details of the plea were put off for a week.
"I was involved in a criminal conspiracy," Armen Kazarian, 47, said through a translator.
He and dozens of other Armenian gangsters were charged last October with setting up at least 118 "phantom" clinics that, with stolen I.D.s, ripped off more than $35 million in federal funds.
Federal District Judge Paul Gardephe cautioned Kazarian that he could not appeal if he was "sentenced to 37 months or less."
After 20 minutes of protracted translations, however, Gardephe stopped the plea as incomplete.
"I'm not hearing the element of a (racketeering) conspiracy," he told prosecutors.
"We're having a devil of a time translating from English to Armenian to English again," famed Californian defense lawyer Mark Geragos told the judge.
Gardephe granted Kazarian and prosecutors another week to work on the language.
When prosecutors crached the ring, they said the Armenian mob "puts the traditional Mafia to shame."
So far, only two others - Rafik Terdjanian and Karen Aharonian - have pleaded guilty.
Charges in the takedown were also filed in California, Georgia, New Mexico and Ohio, against more than 70 other mobsters.
In all, they falsely billed the government for $160 million.