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Clinic Workers Plead Guilty To Role In Medicare Fraud Ring

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two Brooklyn residents have pleaded guilty in a $71 million scheme to defraud Medicare.

Katherina “Katya” Kostiochenko, 34, and Sergey Shelikhov, 51, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Kostiochenko also pleaded guilty to health care fraud and conspiracy to pay kickbacks.

A co-conspirator, Leonid “Lenny” Zheleznyakov, 28, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Court documents said the three were employees of a Brooklyn clinic that paid cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries. They also used the beneficiaries’ names to bill Medicare for more than $71 million in services that were unnecessary or never provided.

They were arrested in the takedown of a health care fraud ring that snared a dozen people, including doctors.

The suspects allegedly worked with people posing as patients to defraud Medicare of more than $95 million, officials said.

WCBS 880 reporter Irene Cornell said last year that, according to federal officials, several doctors worked with members of the health care fraud ring, who would pose as patients. They would submit phony health care claims for nonexistent ailments to Medicare.

According to the indictments, those involved provided services such as massages, facials, lunches and dancing classes to Medicare beneficiaries to get them to allow their Medicare numbers to be billed for medical services that were never provided and not medically necessary.

Kostiochenko faces up to 25 years in prison and Shelikhov and Zheleznyakov both face up to 10 years in prison.

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