First on CNN: Lawmakers pushes State Department to take action on Russian diplomats
December 23rd, 2013
12:16 PM ET

First on CNN: Lawmakers pushes State Department to take action on Russian diplomats

CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez

A senior U.S. lawmaker is pushing the State Department to take action against a group of current and former Russian diplomats who prosecutors allege ran a nine-year scheme that bilked $1.5 million from Medicaid, the U.S. health benefits program for the poor.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter on Monday to Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing concern that the government may not be doing enough to ensure diplomats aren’t improperly getting taxpayer-funded benefits.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month charged 25 current and former Russian diplomats and 24 spouses, alleging they collected Medicaid benefits for prenatal and other care by underreporting their income to qualify.

Most of the defendants have left the United States.

“How will the (Obama) administration treat the 11 named defendants who, according to the U.S. attorney, remain in the United States?  Will you ask the Russian government to waive their immunity so that they can be prosecuted?  If not, will the (State Department) declare them persona non grata?”  Royce asked in his letter.

CNN reported earlier this month that several of the 49 defendants were also suspected of espionage by FBI counterintelligence agents who were involved in investigating the case.

The chairman asked Kerry for a briefing to gather more information on the case, and the coordination between the State and Justice Departments, and the FBI.

Read Royce’s letter here.

soundoff (16 Responses)
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  6. Marty

    Good thing they are not from India or it would be a strip and cavity search!

    December 27, 2013 at 8:17 am | Reply
    • U.S.M.C. 1371

      Still waiting for the video of that chic to be "leaked"

      December 28, 2013 at 12:44 am | Reply
  7. Rich

    It's a shame that now foreign diplomats are falling to a substandard level, in which they feel the right pillage the American people. I guess the ol' adage is true "No honor amongst thieves"

    December 27, 2013 at 1:51 am | Reply
  8. U.S.M.C. 1371

    Why make a issue over a million and some change? The guides on the ACA phone help line are telling people to lie about their income so they will get subsidize. A few Russian compared to a few hundred thousands I will take that any day.

    December 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  9. StanCalif

    Send Putin the bill!

    December 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  10. Random

    Putin is making a big push to right his image, much directed at US. I think it would benefit Putin to understand common americans disdain for those that abuse the system. If he was as smart as I think he is, he would be preparing to handle it himself before we do. He can just as easily recall them and replace them and charge them in russia, or waive the immunity and let us. Some people belong in jail.
    It would be nice if both of our politicians could try to work together.

    December 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Jose

      It'd be easiar to work with foreign politicians than working with fellow americans under the republican banner.

      December 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
      • Random

        Its not just republicans. It is both. There is what is good for this country. Then there is what's good for democraps. Then there is what's good for republicants. You don't get elected with out being one or the other and neither cares about what is good for the country.

        December 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm |

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