A $72-million fraud scheme at a Brooklyn health clinic that involved a Woodbury doctor featured a "kickback room" to pay off patients with a Russian-language poster on the wall warning them to keep quiet, federal prosecutors charged Friday.
The poster, a replica of an iconic 1941 Soviet placard that warned of the dangers of wartime espionage, showed a woman in a head scarf with her finger to her lips, cautioning the clinic's ethnically Russian clients to stay mum after leaving the room where employees doled out $100 bills.
"Don't Gossip!" said the Cyrillic script on the poster, displayed at a U.S. Justice Department news conference in Brooklyn's federal building. "Be on the lookout. In these days the walls talk. It's not far between gossip and betrayal."
The Brooklyn charges were part of a national rollout of health care fraud charges by the Obama administration, with announcements in five cities of cases against 94 people involving more than $251 million in allegedly false claims. Six cases against 22 defendants - including three from Long Island - were filed in Brooklyn.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said at the news conference that investigators are using data analysis to target fraudulent billing patterns from providers, and Lynch pointed out that one case targeted six individuals - all older than 70 - who each allowed their names to be used on more than 2,200 claims in the last six years.
One of the "serial beneficiaries," Valentina Mushinskaya of Brooklyn, had 3,744 claims submitted in her name - and found herself handcuffed and hauled to court at age 82.
Dr. Jonathan Wahl, 47, of Woodbury, was one of two doctors and six administrators at Bay Medical Care clinic in Brooklyn charged in the Russian poster case with paying off patients and charging Medicare or Medicaid for services that were unnecessary or never provided.
Investigators wired the "kickback room" and watched and listened as clinic insiders made 1,000 kickback payments totaling $500,000 - mostly in $100 bills - over a six-week period, according to court papers.
Wahl was released on $500,000 bond after an appearance in court. He and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.
In another Long Island case, prosecutors charged the owner of O2 Home Services - Raid Rabadi, 37, of Massapequa - and two "patient recruiters" with a $3.5-million fraud involving false claims for oxygen-related equipment and other subsidized supplies.
In a third case with Long Island connections, Igor Loshakov, 36, a Valley Stream podiatrist, was charged with $730,000 in false billings, primarily for chemical cauterizations of "granulation tissue." Loshakov could not be reached for comment. Lynch's office said he is expected to appear voluntarily in court on Monday.