Brooklyn medicare fraudster released five years early from prison due to debilitating arthritis

Noah Goldberg, New York Daily News
·2 min read

A Brooklyn woman who bilked the federal government out of $50 million in medicare payments can leave prison five years early because her degenerative arthritis has left her bedridden and unable to bathe herself, a New York City judge ruled Friday.

“Her condition has worsened... she is now bedridden,” Brooklyn Federal Judge Nina Gershon wrote in her ruling to release Irina Shelikhova, who has been in prison since 2012, when authorities arrested her on medicare fraud charges.

Shelikhova, who was nabbed by the FBI at JFK Airport, ultimately pleaded guilty to running a $70 million medicare fraud scheme out of a Bath Beach medical center.

“She now requires assistance to bathe and to use the restroom... She is in constant pain," Judge Gershon noted.

Shelikhova and her co-conspirators initially fled the United States for Ukraine in 2010 after their initial indictment. She stayed there for two years while the federal case moved forward, according to authorities.

Fifteen other people besides Shelikhova were named in the 2010 indictment, including an 82-year-old woman who had put her name to 3,744 Medicare claims.

The scheme involved paying patients $50 to undergo physical therapy or other unnecessary procedures, the feds said. Some patients came numerous times a week for years.

Shelikhova was the “mastermind” of the fraud that totaled $77.4 million in intended loss, the judge said. In the end, Shelikhova and her crew made off with over $50 million in fraudulent claims that were paid out before they got caught.

But now, imprisoned at FCI Tallahassee in Florida, Shelikhova, 58, uses a walker to get around the prison, which is not equipped for disabled residents, according to the judge. Though she may need surgery, including a hip replacement, the Bureau of Prisons has done nothing to help her besides giving her ibuprofen, according to court records.

“While Shelikhova has not seen an orthopedic surgeon to date, that likely is due to the temporary disruption of outside doctor’s appointments due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the feds wrote in court papers.

Shelikhova ran the Bath Beach medical center, Bay Medical, as well as two other centers that were tied up in the scheme, prosecutors said.

When released, she plans to move in with her sister in Florida.

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