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.