The FBI on Thursday charged 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their spouses for their roles in what they say was a near decade-long scheme to defraud Medicaid of half a million dollars in benefits.
Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara and FBI assistant director George Venizelos said each of the defendants "participated in a widespread scheme to illegally obtain Medicaid benefits for prenatal care and related costs by, among other things, falsely underreporting their income or falsely claiming that their child was a citizen of the United States."
"Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country," Bharara said in a statement. "Here, as alleged, a multitude of Russian diplomats and their spouses ran a scam on a health care system designed to help Americans in need. As the complaint alleges, the scam exploited a weakness in the Medicaid system, and the charges expose shameful and systemic corruption among Russian diplomats in New York."