U.S. Attorney Bharara: Scheme Netted $1.5M In Benefits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Charges were announced today against 49 defendants, all of which are current and former Russian diplomats and their spouses, for allegedly participating in a widespread Medicaid fraud scheme.

The defendants are accused of under-reporting their income in order to receive Medicaid benefits, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported Thursday. The defendants also allegedly submitted fraudulent applications for medical benefits for pregnancies, births and care for young children.

Meanwhile, the diplomats spent money lavishly — chartering helicopters, riding in limousines and shopping at all the ritziest stores, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the scheme netted the defendants $1.5 million in Medicaid benefits since 2004.

Bharara said the fraud scheme reveals the shameful systemic corruption among Russian diplomats in New York, Cornell reported.  “Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” he said.

Each of the defendants charged is a current or former Russian diplomat or the spouse of a diplomat employed at either the Russian Mission to the United Nations, the Russian Federation Consulate General in New York, or the Trade Representation of the Russian Federation in the USA, New York Office.

Charges in the criminal complaint included conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to steal government funds and make false statements relating to health care matters.

Because of diplomatic immunity, there were no arrests, Jones reported.

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