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WASHINGTON – Current and former Russian diplomats in New York routinely claimed poverty to fraudulently collect Medicaid benefits for their pregnant wives and children while shopping for luxury watches, Tiffany’s jewelry and even robotic cleaning devices, the U.S. government charged Thursday.
The Justice Department said 49 Russians or their spouses currently or formerly attached to the Russian Consulate, United Nations or trade missions collected $1.5 million in illegal benefits over a period of about a decade in New York City.
Income levels were falsified in applications signed by unnamed senior Russian officials in what U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara said was "shameful and systemic corruption among Russian diplomats in New York."
"We don't think this should affect our bilateral relationship with Russia," said State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf. "Quite frankly, there are too many important issues we have to work on together. The justice system will proceed in the way that it does here in the states, and we don't think it should impact our relationship."
"The justice system will proceed in the way that it does here in the states, and we don't think it should impact our relationship."