Friday, December 6, 2013

US Charges Russian Diplomats in $1.5M Health Care Fraud Case

Dozens of current or former Russian diplomats and their spouses stationed in New York City have been charged in the alleged defrauding of $1.5 million from a government health care program aimed at helping the poor, US federal prosecutors said Thursday. The 49 defendants are accused of involvement in the “systematic” fraudulent submission of falsified applications for benefits under the US health care program Medicaid, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. During the period of the purported fraud scheme from 2004 to August 2013, the defendants falsely underreported their income or fraudulently claimed that their children were US citizens to obtain Medicaid benefits associated with costs for pregnancy, birth and young children, US prosecutors allege. During the same period the defendants spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on luxury vacations and expensive watches, clothes, shoes and jewelry at luxury retailers like Swarovski, Prada and Tiffany & Co., the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. “Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said in the statement.

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