U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explains the fraud (AP)

In recent years, the feds have been busting many Russian New Yorkers with Medicaid fraud (Brooklyn is a major hotbed of the illegal activity). Today, U.S Attorney Preet Bharara announced that 49 Russian diplomats and their spouses were charged with scamming NY State out of Medicaid benefits.

The NY Times reports, "The diplomats and their spouses obtained the benefits for pregnancies, births and first-year-of-life medical needs, generally applying at the same New York hospital, which was not identified, the complaint says... Of the 63 births to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013, 58 of those families, or 92 percent, were paid for by Medicaid benefits, the complaint says." The authorities pointed out that the diplomats submitted forms from the Russian government that misstated their income!

FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos explained, "Our investigation revealed that the defendants spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury watches, jewelry, electronics, and vacations"—and helicopter rides!! He continued, "The amount of money spent on these luxury items was inconsistent with the grossly underreported incomes claimed by the defendants on their Medicaid applications. The defendants earned considerably more than they led the Medicaid system to believe."

The defendants have diplomatic immunity, but it's possible that gets waived. Of course, this might start a little bit of an international incident: According to the AP, "Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency that 'we are bewildered by making the information about accusations of alleged tax and other offenses by Russian embassy personnel available to the media. It's not clear why the relevant agencies have considered it possible to make these accusations public before discussing them through diplomatic channels,' he said."