Southern Brooklyn

More Local Docs Swept Up In Medical Fraud Bust, Largest Crackdown In U.S. History

Valentina Kovalienko, one of the Brooklyn defendants nabbed in yesterday's crackdown, exiting Brooklyn federal court after posting bail Thursday. (Source: AP via Wall Street Journal)

Ten Brooklyn residents were among 114 people busted in a nationwide crackdown on Medicaid and Medicare fraud yesterday, including a slew of Southern Brooklyn residents and medical offices. Sheepshead Bites received reports of agents raiding two local offices, one on Sheepshead Bay Road between Voorhies and Shore Parkway, and another on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Shore Parkway.

The single largest scheme in the nationwide sweep involved seven Russian immigrants that bilked taxpayers out of $57 million in a three-year scheme, involving three clinics in the Sheepshead Bay area.

Federal authorities say the suspects included “recruiters” who brought Medicare and Medicaid recipients to the clinics, which billed the government for visits, diagnostics tests and physical therapy the patients never received. Three men were also charged for their role in driving the patients to their appointments and paying them off.

In another case, authorities charged a Midwood-based physical therapist, Aleksandr Kharkover, for charging $12 million in false bills from 2005 to July 2010.

Brighton Beach proctologist Boris Sachakov was indicted a second time yesterday as well, this time for “unbundling,” a term for breaking out charges that should be grouped together in order to earn more. We recently wrote about Sachakov after he was arrested for allegedly charging $3.5 million in phony bills from his Colon and Rectal Care of New York office, including charges for 85 hemorrhoidectomies on a single patient, and working more than 24 hours in a day.

The nationwide sweep led to arrests in nine cities, including Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Detroit and Miami, and is the largest takedown in U.S. history. It involved more than 40 unrelated schemes, costing taxpayers more than $240 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry said the agency has increasingly seen organized-crime groups move into health care fraud “because of its profitability,” and that recruiters target low-income areas and soup kitchens to find new patients.

WSJ and its publishers filed court papers last month to overturn a 1979 decision blocking the public from seeing the Medicare billing records of individual doctors. They say opening the records would allow state medical boards, nonprofits, universities and the media to act as watchdogs over the $500 billion Medicare program.

Comment policy


  1. the FEDs were in Brighton yesterday morning looking through the trunk of someone’s car in front of one of the medical offices..

  2. 114 people, JR. The only Russian ones I’ve heard about were from our area – which makes sense, since so many of the docs in our area are Russian. Don’t make generalizations.

  3. I believe that, and thank goodness. Though everyone demonized the health care reform, it provided a slew of new ways for them to monitor and crack down on fraud. You’re going to see a lot of people go away for what they thought was free money over the years.

  4. Russians. Mother Fu–ckers.

    I hope they send more undercover agents to arrest more people.

    Am sure more arrests will come..

    Am sure most of them are saying NO GUILTY. It wasn’t me..

    It was you CASHING the money. But, it wasn’t you doing fraud?

  5. Go away?

    The TAX PAYERS money that they stole is used to pay for the LAWYERS.

    They transfer the money over seas to convert it to cash under the mattress.

    That cash is being USED to pay for the legal fees claiming they are innocent and didn’t do billing…

    “we didn’t do billing, we outsourced it (to my brother to do billing, who doesn’t speak English)”

    They didn’t cry when they cashed the check? did they?

    Wonder how much of the $240 million of the tax payers dollars be recovered?

    Wonder how much time they get in jail?

    Authorities believe this kind of fraud costing tax payers “between $60 billion and $90 billion each year”

    While other work hard with HONEST living. Why are so many getting away with fraud and then do a plea bargain?

    What happen to the queens people who did $85 million fraud to the city?

    How about all the billion $ mortgage fraud?

  6. Look on the bright side: we should be thankful that Russian mafia is more “white collar” than, say, Tony Soprano (as in “nobody was whacked in the making of this fraud”).
    Those Italians…

  7. I don’t think we should be lashing out on Russians, its immigrants in general. Miami is even worse than us and all the fraud there is being done by Cubans. Let’s face it south Brooklyn has a lot of Russians living in it. That said, I think it’s a witch hunt. When feds throw out numbers like 100 million dollars they mean that’s what all the doctors combined billed over a long period of time (not what they received). All doctors know approximately know how much they will receive for a claim, but they must bill every scenario the same way i.e. cash, Medicare or insurance. The idea is to bill $300 for a procedure which Medicare will pay $40 in the hope that when they have an insurance patient they will receive $200 for a $300 claim. The doctors are actually following the law here. Yes, there are bad apples, but I know doctors that have gotten in the cross hairs of the FBI and they did nothing wrong. I think we are underrating what our doctors should be making. There are not too many professions out there that require a person to get out of school at 30 years old with $300,000 in loans, not to mention that most people cannot be doctors. There is downward pressure from our current administration to demonize the health profession so when the time comes to have a single payer system doctors will not mind getting $50,000 a year.

  8. Medicare/Medicaid fraud prosecutions happened before, happen now and will continue to happen.
    For example, read NY State Insurance Dept. press releases by year:

    Let’s not shift the blame from criminals to the government. High loan amount is not an excuse for being a crook.

  9. Used to be a time when people became doctors because they wanted to. Not because of the money.

    In many other countries doctors get paid shit and still do it.

    In the USA, its different.
    No one should get away with fraud and use the STOLEN money to pay for a top lawyer.

    How do you think these criminals are paying for lawyers?

  10. Used to be a time when people became doctors because they wanted to. Not because of the money.

    In many other countries doctors get paid shit and still do it.

    In the USA, its different.
    No one should get away with fraud and use the STOLEN money to pay for a top lawyer.

    How do you think these criminals are paying for lawyers?

  11. ohh, the billing person was Maksim Gelman and he is crazy.

    Plea INSANITY billing.

    Didn’t know what I was doing when I was billing.

    But, i cashed the checks because the DEA made me do it

    I was framed

    This is a set up by the FBI, CIA, DEA and every other agency

    wonder if this will stand in court.

    Ass holes

  12. It doesnt matter who they are .

    Maybe they have a Russian name, but are German or Chinese or etc.

    Al of them should go down and get the medical license REVOKED.


    Wonder how many will get to keep the medical license and be in the news 10 years later doing the same thing

    Or better yet, go to jail and meet OTHER criminals and
    in jail criminals are bored 24/7 and they have time to think of a NEW way to screw the system.

  13. Every immigrant waves has a spike in crime. Italians, Irish, Jews who came 100 years ago had organized crime outfits, too, did they not? May I remind you names like Gambino and Meyer Lansky?

    Other immigrant communities today, such as Chinese and Hispanics, also get involved in organized crime.

    The surprising part of it is not how many Russians are involved, but how few. Russian crime rates are lower than that of other immigrant groups, both present-day ones and those of past generations.

    Also, Russian organized crime is far less violent than Italian, Hispanic, etc. Insurance fraud is bad, no doubt, and should punished to the fullest extent of the law, but it is not as bad as murder, rape and other violent crime. Were you ever afraid to walk around a Russian neighborhood after dark?

    Another key point is that Russians stop committing these crimes by the time they get to Generation 1.5, a.k.a. those who were born in Russia, but educated in the United States. Most other immigrant groups continue engaging in organized crime for at least a couple generations.

    And finally, Russians are the only ones who don’t scream “racism” when their criminals get arrested. They recognize that these people should be thrown in prison and feel shame seeing these people, rather than screaming about ethnic pride and alleged racism.

  14. Defrauding the government is wrong! But why are the FEDs concentrating on doctors. Half of the fraud is being done by supply vendors filing bogus claims. Let’s face it 60 billion is a drop in the bucket for our government. There are so many crocked organizations within the government. By law Medicare will pay out claims before they do any verification. And as a result there are plenty of “entrepreneurs” cashing in on that lope hole. So they give away this money and then they catch whoever they can 5 years later. Mean while most of the heavy hitters are already overseas. The majority of the damage is not being done by a doctor practicing on Brighton beach. As usual the government is looking out instead of looking in.
    I’ll give you an example of a corrupt business that has been siphoning billions of dollars from our government for years, the construction business. Why aren’t the feds going after the real organized crime elements within our government? No one knows how many under the table deals and over payments there are because the government just writes a blank check.
    Hospitals are suffering and believe it or not doctors are suffering to. The majority of doctors go into medicine to help people, but everybody needs to get paid for their work accordingly it’s a simple supply and demand. Don’t kid yourself healthcare providers don’t make a third of what they did 20 years ago.

  15. Are you an idiot? Did you even bother reading Ned’s article or the WSJ article? Only 7 out of 114 people busted nationwide were Russian. 7 out of 114 is only 6%. Maybe they have a Russian name, but are German or Chinese or etc. Does that statement really make sense in your brain?

  16. Also used to be a time when the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, etc. were new immigrants and did the same thing the Russians are doing, but more violently and for a longer period of time. I think Russians should get some credit for making sure that 1) their organized crime is overwhelmingly non-violent; and 2) their kids don’t get involved in it.

    No matter what the parents do, they make sure their kids go to college and make their money by strictly ethical means.

  17. This has not much to do with the race or ethnicity of the people involved.
    It’s very sad that people can be conniving and thieving.

  18. Construction business, true. But could you please clarify who the “real organized crime elements within our government” are?

    Also, when you get stopped for speeding, try the following excuses and see if any of them will work:
    – Nobody follows the speed limit, why stop me?
    – I was only going 70, the real speeders are long gone – you should have stopped them instead of me!
    – I don’t get paid enough as it is, and I don’t get tips if I don’t deliver in 30 minutes, so I had to go as fast as I could.

  19. I kind of guessed it, based on the style of writing and line spacing (LOL), but the new Disqus system does not allow positive proof, unfortunately.

  20. I’ve never seen it put so elegently, but you sir/madam are absolutly correct. Thank you for this post. Seriously, thank you.

  21. Well………….. No.

    Think about it, this sort of fraud does have a human cost. How many people couldn’t get a needed service because of cutbacks, which were necessitated by the higher expense of the system. Fraud plays a large part in it. These arrests have not eliminated every doctor who pads bills or engages in other fraudulent practices.

    The Italian Mafia would tell you that they only kill within their own group. Everyone finds a way to convince themselves that they have a code of ethics. Of course, some people do live their lives using an admirable code of ethical responsibility.

  22. I don’t think most doctors in Brooklyn have agreements with organized crime it’s pretty laughable. Frankly doctors don’t need anybody to make bogus claims. They don’t even have to be a doctor to get money from Medicare.

    I love your analogy although I don’t think you can equate 10 years in jail to a $200 speeding ticket. I’ll give you a another analogy the cop stops the guy for speeding and gives him ticket, but ignored a robbery in progress right next door because he has to meet a quota of tickets per day.

    And for the record I think the belt parkway should have a speeding limit of 70 mph. Now if they could only fix those pot holes?

  23. would love a new system, where you CAN’T type under a million different names…. perhaps one where the Owner of the website I.E. Ned. can approve people before they can post. /hint hint 😀

  24. they say that punishment should fit the crime.. so what kind of punishment should one get for rectal care crimes??……………….

  25. Ironically all the people that are listed as Wanted by FBI for med fraud, on the link provided by racist CindyM are all people with Hispanic last names.

  26. Good thing they did not say that out of 117 people there were Irish, Italian, German and Puerto Rican and maybe some other nationalities and ethnic groups. but they did sure concentrate on Russians mother fuckers……

  27. 70 is actually too fast for the Belt because of narrow lanes because it’s a parkway. It was designed for 60 mph; parts are safe to go at 65. But since the government likes to build in a safety factor, its limit was 55. Then the City decided that the maximum speed limit should be 50 which is ridiculously low, so no one follows it. By lowering it to 50, speeding fines are increased, but they tell you a 50 mile limit saves lives. ( A 30 mph saves more lives, so does that mean 30 should be the limit?.)

  28. If Sachakov was arrested a second time for cheating again, what makes anyone think that these people will stop? When they get out of jail, they will just continue the same practices. Their licenses need to be revoked or they need to be kept in jail longer until they have learned their lesson.

  29. Some go to prison and hang out 24/7 with more criminals.

    Its a criminal’s camp.

    Prison is like a criminal training camp. ( 24/7 bored criminals socialize to think of bigger crimes)

    These criminals come out of prison with more high-tech criminal training.

    time for the death penalty.

    And the license should have been revoked the first time. AND they must return the stolen money.

  30. As much as I’d hate the traffic I’m down for widening the belt and making it four lanes. Most of the belt can accommodate four lanes and the rest just build a ramp. As they say it would “stimulate the economy”, why should people in NJ have all the fun.

    O and maybe the city should propose we stop driving altogether, “saves lives”.

  31. man, what a group,!!!,,, it is all over,, even in Bensonhurts last year i guess, another group…. It happens anyway…. hope this to end.

  32. The Belt only needs four lanes between Knapp Street and Cross Bay where there are no service roads. It can easily be widened, but the new bridges will only accommodate three lanes unless they allow traffic on the shoulders just to cross the bridges. (Either that or build a bridge between Avenue U and Seaview so you don’t have to travel to Flatlands when there is a big delay) Obvious to everyone who drives, except our elected officials like Lew Fidler who doesn’t see any need fo it.

  33. This is the reason why U.S. Citizens who have worked hard all their lives can’t get the medical attention they need. It’s a shame that those not born in this country can come here “with the playbook” in hand and know exactly how to cheat our system!

  34. Shame on those doctors ,scum bags who wants to make lots of money fast way,because of them we get bad label. I hope they will serve long time behind bars. I feel sorry for old people that go to doctors trust them with their life and look what happens .They probably prescribe medication that they don’t even need,but most of older generation don’t even read english so they take advantage of them.

  35. Moderated comments would be nice, but on a site that generates so many you’d need more than one admin to keep things from getting bogged down. Posts should usually be cleared in a short time, and reviewing them takes time. That would probably mean that the 3AM written during a bout with insomnia won’t appear til morning. Moderation can keep the list free from trolls of various kinds, and keep redundant posters from flooding the site.

    I know Ned doesn’t favor moderation. But I see it acting as a safety valve. Besides it can be set up so that regular posters aren’t moderated unless their behavior warrants it. (Yes Ned, I know setting all this up and maintaining it is a lot of work)

  36. I figured you knew this, but were writing linearly.

    I think it is very important to consider how medical fraud is responsible for human tragedies of the worst kind.

  37. On another note, notice how PR people working for the FBI and OJ always like to sell the idea of “The biggest crackdown in history” almost every time they have a big story to push to the media.

  38. Sure, keep letting more and more and more Russians come here illegally, and f*** people out of their money. What else is new? Our doors will never close to them.

  39. shut the fuck up, you complain about some stupid pothole’s and how sanitation didn’t clear your snow or take your garbage, but 240,000,000 usd is no biggie, you my friend are a dumbass.

  40. This is a new angle we have not explored yet.

    So are you saying that all these doctors are in US illegally? You mean NYS issues medical licenses to people without documents? OMG!!!

    Please continue…

  41. I think registration should be required before posting. It’d be a lot easier to keep track of flamers and trolls.

  42. The current setup allows for the control of individuals posting to the site. Those who insistently and persistently make nuisances of themselves can be banned from posting.

    But I believe that as a general rule Ned likes to give such individuals ample opportunity to hang themselves..Usually they skulk away when they find that they are being ignored.

  43. Right, but registration forces a prospective poster to provide an email address, which should restrict a person from posting insults under 10 different nicknames.

  44. Maksim Gelman is an exception to the rule. Go to the Brooklyn criminal court and look for Russian names on the felony calendar. Not even 1% of Brooklyn’s felons are Russian, not even 0.5%. Any cop will tell you that working in a precinct located in a Russian neighborhood is a very cushy job.

  45. So they will be remembered as a criminal and not a “doctor” ( who is devoted to save lives and do no harm and etc)

  46. Just like any nationality, there is good and bad.
    Some of this element found it’s niche in Medical Fraud.
    The projected losses these crimes create are more costly than the actual ripoff.
    The newer immigrants are more informed because of organizations that offer assistance. I would like to see less people need the system upon arrival, but it is what it is.

  47. This medical-related fraud is a tiny drop in the ocean compare to the greatest fraud in this country’s history called “fractional-reserve banking” and money-printing out of nothing aka “Stimulus packages”, which is done by no one else but AMERICAN gov’t.

  48. With the slimy business practices that I have been exposed to with local Docs, I am shocked that more haven’t been busted.

    One local doc saw me and told me I needed a script but didn’t write one. When I called, the woman answering the phone told me she spoke to the doc and told me I had to see him again to get the script. That’s two(2) visits for one (1) prescription. I got the script from my internist, over the phone.

    There is a doc, a urologist, who lives locally, who practices in Staten Island, who tried to do the same thing, only it was for a procedure. He wanted me to come back to his office for another visit so that his office worker could make arrangements for the procedure. I told him that I would make it that day, he told me he did not work that way. I would have to come back.

    I had the procedure done in a doc’s office, an hour in the treatment room and it was over. No 3 days in the Hospital.

  49. From what I understand, the cops can’t crack into Russian gangs. They all know each other from their home towns, local cops have their hands tied. I am sure that the cops have special units trying………..

  50. Dumb Ass.

    More AMERICANS screwed the system for MORE money than all the immigrants combined

    you idiot.

    Mortgage fraud screwed tax payers for billions.

  51. Some scripts cannot be called over the phone, originals need to be handed to the pharmacy it order to get medication. The second visit to the doctor for the script should not be billable though.

  52. Question?

    Why is the STOLEN money allowed to be used for LEGAL fees?

    Why not freeze all the accounts and NOT let $1,000,000 used for criminal defense lawyers (unless they have cash under the mattress)

    If they stolen this money from medicare/Medicaid and its tax payers funds. therefore they stole taxpayers funds?

    Why are they allowed to use tax payers funds to pay for TOP lawyers?

    How much justice do you want? how much can you afford.

    The FBI and the government should INCREASE the penalty for this. These doctors should AUTOMATICALLY lose their medical license.

    And increase prison time.

    A person get cough with marijuana gets more time in jail for $200 MILLION fraud

  53. We have something in this country called innocent until proven guilty. The government cannot freeze people’s bank accounts every time they suspect fraud.

  54. If you took the time to look into this matter you’d find out that immigrants drive most new businesses in this country. At the risk of generalizing, emigrants tend to be more motivated to achieve the “American dream” then Americans. In fact, small business growth is a huge factor in getting our unemployment numbers down.

  55. Total BS.

    The Russians have no political power, at least not yet, so they would never be able to pull off any conspiracy at a political level.

    And what gangs are you talking about? Secret conspiracy gangs hiding in the basement? Crime and gangs is something people can see. You hear shootings, you see menacing-looking people, you get to know victims, etc. Places that have significant gang activity can be identified in two seconds.

    If Russian neighborhoods had high crime, you would be afraid to walk there. Are you?

    Middle class people would not be buying condos in high-crime areas. That Russian areas show the highest number of new condos is another sign of the neighborhoods’ peacefulness.

    Your claim is nothing but anti-Russian hate no different than, say, anti-Semitism. Just as anti-Semites are claiming there is a secret Jewish conspiracy and that all the Jews are in on it which is why they can keep it secret, you are claiming the same for the Russians.

    Structurally, your argument is identical to Holocaust denial: in both cases, the claim is that a whole community is in on a scam, with every member of the ethnic group keeping a dark secret to promote their communal interests.

    Shame on you!

  56. One more thing. Ned just posted statistics for this neighborhood and crime has gone down 90% since 1993 when Russians began moving into Sheepshead Bay. Granted part of it has to do with Rudy Giuliani reforms. But Sheepshead Bay showed a significantly higher decrease in crime since the Russians moved in than did other neighborhoods.

    According to this and all the other evidence, both statistical and visual, Russians have a lower crime rates than the general population.

  57. Sorry for calling you an Dumb Ass and/or idiot.

    Italians and Irish and few more nationalities have MUCH more political power than Russians.

    While some nationalities full off million dollar frauds.
    Other nationalities pull off Billion dollar fraud.

    But, the media spends so much time talking about the million dollar fraud, that you dont hear much about the billion dollar fraud.

    Example of Billion Dollar fraud is
    Federal Reserve
    Govt contract for Iraq ( Billion disappeared and no one knows where it is)
    Bail out money for banks

    And much much more…

  58. if you gave a few these crooks the death penalty i’m sure you would see a decrease in this type of fraud

  59. The mother fuckers are the haters spreading stereotypes on how bad the Russians are. Read the news, most of them weren’t even Russians. Newsflash, two weeks earlier similar case occurred with the Americans. Surprised? Stupid fool. Just keep your yap where it belongs, shut!

  60. Yes, everyone is so bad, including the natural born citizen fucking the system on welfare for life while working on check and side jobs on cash. Sure. Define the term AMERICAN. Everyone is so fucking smart. Its a country established by immigrants.

  61. You just don’t get what Redcar said. He couldn’t care less if the people are Russian, German or Chinese….Lock them all up.
    Are you so preoccupied with defending the Russians that you forgot how to read. Maybe it does not make sense in your brain. Are you and idiot?…..Doesn’t feel nice, does it.

  62. When someone comes in 2 years later with such a strong statement I wonder about what you actually do know. “IF” I was not a lazy SOB I would pull up proof FYI.. The total numbers in this area….Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Gravesend are definitely in the Russian/Ukrainian favor. Especially between Pharmacy, Day Care, Dental, medical, Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Ya see I do read the news and I also remember what I read over the years. Not being a hater….the truth hurts, that is not my problem.

  63. Was the $ to pay the tickets gotten illegally? They don’t freeze your assets, THE TAKE YOUR CAR!

  64. I reiterate, “Just like any nationality, there is good and bad.” During this period (2yrs. ago) our area was seeing more than a fair share of all types fraud.
    This time was for the Russians to shine. The Italians had their day so did the Irish and so on and so on.
    Now can they investigate car insurance fraud.

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