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Noisy MRI Truck Facing Lawsuit

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The company that operated a noisy MRI truck in Pelham Gardens has fallen into bankruptcy, and may soon be dealing more hot water.

In October 2009, an MRI truck parked behind Eastchester Precision Medical at 1500 Mace Avenue.Its loud engine ran throughout the day. After several months, local residents reported the truck to local elected officials.

Residents claimed the truck engine ran for over 60,000 straight hours. In time, with help from Councilman Jimmy Vacca, the truck was shut down and removed.

Recently, Eastchester Precision Medical was forced into bankruptcy by a sister company called Precision Office Management Inc., claiming that $2 million is owed to them. Also, Geico, the auto insurer of the MRI truck, is claiming that the company was fraudulently owned by a physician that is not a licensed radiologist.

“I knew from the beginning there was something more there then meets the eye,” Vacca said. “My intention was to just get rid of the truck completely, but now we have a lot more than any of us expected.”

In a lawsuit field in January, Geico claims that although the truck was providing MRI services, there was never actually an MRI machine inside of it.

MRIs were provided to a large number of patients involved in car accidents that were covered under Geico’s insurance polices. Geico, however, is refusing to pay approximately $922,000 in medical claims because they allege that Dr. Edovard Hazel is falsely representing the Eastchester Precision Medical as its owner. They claim the doctor has never engaged in the practice of radiology and is incapable of reading an MRI.

Geico claims that not one of more than 1,000 bills submitted to Eastchester Precision Medical for radiology services was performed by Dr. Hazel, but Geico says it “is not surprising since Dr. Hazel is an internist whose specialty is infectious diseases.”

“When residents first came to me about the truck we knew we had to shut it down because the constant noise was unbearable,” Vacca said. “Then you stop to really think about it, because on a professional basis, who puts an MRI truck in a backyard? After the machine was removed this all began to surface, and I am not surprised.”

Geico also says in their lawsuit that the real owners of Eastchester Precision Medical are two men internationally known for alleged insurance fraud: Ruslan and Igor Erlikh.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Igor Erlikh fled the country in 1995 on charges of defrauding the federal government and New Jersey of $140 million in taxes on $500 million worth of motor fuel sales.

He was returned to the country in 1999 by Ukrainian authorities. He pleaded guilty and served nine years in prison.

Ruslan Erlikh, was arrested in 2000 for his connections to an insurance-fraud scheme that filed questionable claims of injuries in bogus car accidents.

Updated 5:11 pm, October 21, 2011
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