NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A health insurance fraud plot has led to the arrests of 20 people, including an NYPD doctor.

“What we have here is a brazen fraud scheme,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, Gonzalez said the scheme was designed to rip off Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance companies. Phony medical tests led up to $146 million in fraudulent patients, the DA said.

“Let’s be clear. These people were spending your tax dollars,” Gonzalez said.

The alleged scam operated out of six clinics in Brooklyn.

“Make-believe patients were recruited and given cash kickbacks to undergo batteries of unnecessary tests and procedures, and in many, many cases, procedures that were claimed were not even performed at all,” Gonzalez said.

NYPD surgeon Robert Vaccarino was among the doctors recruited to sign off on the tests.

“In order to get paid, they have to have a doctor take a look at that test,” Gonzalez said.

Patients were paid $30 while the ringleader bought luxury handbags and a $3 million apartment, prosecutors said.

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