More than three dozen Russian diplomats and their spouses enjoyed luxury vacations and spent tens of thousands of dollars at the finest stores as they lied about their incomes to get the government to pay their health care bills, federal prosecutors in New York said today. The diplomats were among 49 individuals charged in a complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, though no arrests were made and only 11 of the diplomats and their spouses remained in the United States. The complaint said Medicaid lost about $1.5 million in the scheme since 2004.
The complaint alleges that the defendants systematically submitted fraudulent applications for medical benefits for pregnancies, births, and care for young children. Federal prosecutors said the diplomats underreported their income on the applications so that they would qualify for Medicaid benefits, but gave more accurate descriptions of salaries to qualify for credit cards. The complaint alleges that the diplomats spent prodigiously at Apple, Bloomingdale's, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Swarovski, and others. The 18-month investigation concluded that 58 of the 63 births attributed to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013 were funded through Medicaid benefits. (Read more Medicaid stories.)