(NEW YORK) — Four dozen Russian diplomats and their spouses have fraudulently been using Medicaid to cover the costs of pregnancy and child birth over the last decade, costing American taxpayers $1.5 million, the FBI said in a criminal indictment.
The indictment unsealed Thursday claims that from 2004 to 2013 there were 63 births to Russian diplomats stationed in New York, and 58 of them were paid for by Medicaid.
Medicaid is designed to help low-income individuals and families afford health care. Recipients must generally be U.S. citizens or qualified immigrants, the indictment explains. Diplomats, including their spouses and children, are not considered to be qualified immigrants.
However, proof of U.S. citizenship is not required for pregnant women completing an “Access NY Healthcare” application, according to the documents, because the unborn child is presumed to acquire citizenship when they are born in the country.
Federal prosecutors allege the diplomats under-reported their incomes on the applications in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
The indictment states that before, during and after receiving Medicaid benefits those same diplomats “spent tens of thousands of dollars” on luxury goods at Swarovski, Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdale’s and Jimmy Choo.
“The pattern of spending by the Russian diplomats and their spouses, including the defendants, is generally inconsistent with the grossly underreported incomes claimed on the Medicaid applications,” the indictment states.
The goods included luxury watches, clothes, shoes, jewelry, electronics, concert tickets and robotic cleaning devices, the indictment said.
The indictment asks that 49 accused Russian diplomats and their spouses be arrested, but because of diplomatic immunity for embassy officials none have been arrested.
The Russian Mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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