23 clinic workers arrested in health care fraud bust

Nearly two dozen people were arrested in a major health care fraud bust in Williamsburg.

A total of 23 people, including nine doctors, were arraigned in Downtown Brooklyn Tuesday on a slew of charges, which include health care fraud, enterprise corruption, money laundering and grand larceny. District Attorney Ken Thompson says the defendants made nearly $7 million over the course of two years.

The Kings County District Attorney's Office says two clinics operating at 721 and 741 Flushing Ave. were the main targets of the investigation. Staff arrested include podiatrists, vascular surgeons, office managers and administrators.

Investigators say the group, which operated out of several clinics in the Bronx and Brooklyn, would lure patients from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices with the promise of free sneakers and boots.

According to prosecutors, an eavesdropping warrant allowed them to obtain hundreds of calls about claims being submitted to Medicaid and Medicare without actually seeing patients. The clinics are also accused of billing for unnecessary medical equipment.

The accused mastermind has been identified as Eric Vainer, who was arrested while vacationing in Florida. Authorities say he operated a clinic and also had a medical equipment company. He allegedly had doctors prescribe specific equipment for patients so that his company could profit. Vainer will be extradited to New York to face charges.

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