The Doctor Died in 2002. Or So Prosecutors Thought

The LAT digs into the international case of Tigran Svadjian
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2016 1:15 PM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2016 6:54 AM CST
The Doctor Died on a Moscow Street, Then Turned Up 13 Years Later
Traffic moves along the multi-lane highway in Moscow, where Tigran Svadjian "died" in 2002.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Newser) – As Jim Morrison put it, "we live, we die, and death not ends it." Truer words were perhaps never spoken about Tigran Svadjian, a California doctor who died on a Moscow street on Oct. 20, 2002—but didn't. The Los Angeles Times looks at the story of the man they call "Doctor who," a case that began in 1998, when the 40-year-old native of Armenia expanded upon his own Orange County medical practice with the purchase of the Southwest Medical Group. The group was already in the government's crosshairs, having allegedly committed some $13 million in medical fraud. Svadjian insisted he was clean, but a 14-month audit completed in 2002 found he could only furnish 13 medical records of the 200 the state asked for.

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Facing allegations of bilking the state of $1.9 million and 10 years in prison, he agreed to wear a wire and help prosecutors get his co-conspirators. He just had to go to Russia first to visit his sick mother. On Oct. 31, prosecutors got a fax from the US Embassy in Moscow: Svadjian was dead of pneumonia. In 2013, the statute of limitations having expired, the evidence against him was trashed. Except he wasn't dead. Viktoras Cajevkis (a Lithuanian) was stopped in a Kiev, Ukraine, airport in July. His passport was fake, and it led officials to Hurghada, Egypt, where Cajevkis was found to be Vasily Petrosov (a Russian), a scuba instructor who lived with his pregnant girlfriend and their child. Petrosov was, yes, Tigran Svadjian. Read the full story to learn what Petrosov faces now, and how $200 was all it took to "die." (Read more Longform stories.)

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