New York’s Russian Diplomats Used Medicaid to Pay for Dozens of Childbirths
Dozens of current and former Russian diplomats and their spouses posted to New York City have been accused of lying to the U.S. government in order to receive Medicaid benefits.
Following an 18-month FBI investigation, 49 Russian citizens were indicted for their involvement in defrauding Medicaid out of $1.5 million in services, including those related to childbirth. The federal complaint says that families of the 58 out of 63 babies born to the diplomats and their spouses between 2004 and 2013 received the benefits. The services covered the pregnancies, actual births, and postnatal care of 92% of the diplomats’ children born during that period.
“Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, told the media. “The charges expose shameful and systemic corruption among Russian diplomats in New York.”
But it remains to be seen if any of the accused stand trial. All have diplomatic immunity, which prevents the government from putting them on trial.
Bharara has the option of asking the State Department for a waiver of immunity from the Russian government so the defendants can be tried.
If that doesn’t happen, the State Department’s policy is to “require departure of that individual from the United States,” according to Bharara.
The complaint also states that while the Russian diplomats and their spouses were defrauding Medicaid, they were, according to The New York Times, “spending tens of thousands of dollars on luxury goods and vacations, including jewelry, watches, clothes and shoes, at Jimmy Choo, Tiffany & Company and Bloomingdale’s.” The U.S. attorney’s charge sheet also includes diplomats’ purchase of Apple electronics, concert tickets, chartered helicopters and “robotic cleaning devices.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
U.S. Says Diplomats Defrauded Medicaid (by Benjamin Weiser, New York Times)
Russian Diplomats Accused of $1.5M Medicaid Fraud (by Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays, Associated Press)
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