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To the world, Dr. Tatyana Gabinskaya appeared to be a true immigrant success story â€• a woman who left the former Soviet Union with a medical degree from Leningrad University to make it in America.
Establishing a pediatrics practice in Michael Kors Outlet Brooklyn, Gabinskaya soon made enough to travel the world, buy a luxury condo with Manhattan skyline views and claim privileges at busy city hospitals.
But her opulent lifestyle came crashing down around 6 a.m. Wednesday when Gabinskaya and nine other licensed physicians were busted by the FBI and NYPD as part of a massive insurance fraud ring.
The ring was run by a group of Russians who defrauded insurance companies of $279 million by filing bogus car accident claims, the Manhattan U.S. attorney charged.
They would bill insurers for unnecessary and, in some cases, fictional treatments such as MRIs after doctors deemed them medically necessary for the phony accident victims.
All of the busted doctors had impressive pedigrees and lived in well-appointed affluence. They were licensed to practice medicine by the state of New York for years, and many had affiliations with multiple hospitals and memberships in professional medical associations.
But it was all a facade.
Gabinskaya claimed to speak nine languages and was, for a time, an assistant professor of pediatrics at prestigious Mt. Sinai College of Medicine.
In 2008, she was able to afford a $700,Michael Michael Kors Hamilton,000 luxury Michael Kors Outlet Online condo on the Jersey City waterfront with marble bathrooms, 24-hour concierge and fitness room with sauna.
On her Facebook page, she showed off sunny snapshots of her visits to exotic locales. She posed with police officers in London; she reclined on a sailboat floating on tropical waters.
Some of her co-defendants lived similarly well-heeled lives. Dr. Mark Shapiro owned a 5,846-square-foot ranch on Long Island with 41/2 baths, two fireplaces and a pool that he bought for $1.9 million in 2004.
â€śDr. Shapiro is a well-respected, accomplished radiologist,â€ť his attorney, Jonathan Davidoff, said on Friday.
In 2010, Dr. Robert Della Badia was able to afford a $680,000 renovated 1764 farm upstate with hand-hewn beams Michael Kors Outlet Handbags and â€śacreage for four horses,â€ť a real estate brokerage boasted.
Dr. Billy Geris â€• who says he speaks Hebrew and Arabic â€• got himself a huge 4,260-square-foot mansion on a leafy New Jersey cul de sac estimated to be worth $830,000.
A neighbor who didnâ€™t want to be identified said the house was â€śimpressiveâ€ť and noted that hardly anyone knew Geris because the house appeared to be used only on the weekends.
â€śItâ€™s a big house and theyâ€™re almost never there,â€ť the neighbor said. â€śHow can you afford to live here and somewhere else at the same time?â€ť
Dr. Zuheir Said said he was affiliated with Woodhull Hospital and says he worked for the Department of Defense and FEMA in 2009. Reached by phone, he declined to elaborate on what he did for the government.
Paradise first began to disappear for all 10 in September 2010 when the insurance company Geico sued Gabinskaya, charging she was the front for a fraud mill secretly owned by Mikhail (Russian Mike) Zemlyansky,Michael Kors Clutches Cheap M, an alleged leader of the fraud ring.
The suit says she had submitted hundreds of charges for expensive MRI tests for car accident victims, despite the fact that â€• as a pediatrician â€• she had no training to actually read an MRI. In one year she billed for $2 million.
Then, last August, Geris was arrested on Medicaid fraud charges. He set up a website seeking his patientsâ€™ support: â€śI need your help to drop false accusation (sic) against me for Healthcare, Medicare and kickback fraud.â€ť
Last week what the feds say is years of fraudulent Michael Kors Online Shop behavior culiminated in a flashy early morning takedown, a criminal indictment naming 36 conspirators and appearances in court alongside defendants with names like â€śSkinny Mikeâ€ť and â€śKGBâ€ť.
And a closer look revealed several of the doctors were already on the radar screen of health insurers for other types of abusive billing and fraud.
Several of the doctors had multiple â€śprovider numbersâ€ť â€• the numbers caregivers use when seeking insurance reimbursement for treatment. That is a red-flag Michael Kors Outlet Store for fraud.
One of the doctors arrested, Michael Kors Outlet Joseph Vitoulis, had been hit with misconduct charges by the state in 2007 for the same type of car insurance fraud. On Wednesday all of the doctors pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. All face the potential of spending years in prison.
Gabinskaya could not be reached for comment about the charges.
Her attorney, Arthur Gershfeld, also had little to say,Michael Kors Hand Bags Cheap Michael Kors Handbags, except to note, â€śRemember, everyone is presumed innocent.â€ť