A Brooklyn clinic was exposed Friday as a Medicare mill where "professional patients" lined up in a "kickback room" for payoffs under a poster warning them not to snitch.
As part of the largest ever nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud, Brooklyn prosecutors charged 15 people, including an 82-year-old woman who put her name to 3,744 Medicare claims since 2004.
Valentina Mushinskaya's nephew said his diabetes-stricken aunt was clueless about the scam at Bay Medical - allegedly run by a doctor with a penthouse, a Mercedes-Benz and a yacht.
"She feels ashamed, absolutely shocked," said Vladimir Olshansky after she was released on $30,000 bail.
Prosecutors say five clinics in the city bilked the government out of $78 million through claims for unnecessary or phantom services.
The feds infiltrated the so-called "kickback room" at the Bay Parkway clinic where patients collected $50 to $100 payments for each bogus visit, prosecutors said.
Behind a door marked "Private," the wall was decorated with a Cold War-era poster with a Russian version of the "no snitching'" campaign.
It showed a grim-looking woman with her finger to her lips, with the warning: "Don't Gossip...Be on the lookout...In these days the walls talk...It's not far between gossiping and betrayal."
"They should have heeded the warning because the walls had ears and they had eyes," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, referring to surveillance recordings by informants.
"In these days, the walls do talk."
The feds found another kickback room at Solstice clinic on Beach 102nd St., where patients openly blabbed about the kickbacks, according to court papers.
Among those busted was Evgeny Gil, 78, whose lawyer told the judge he needed followup care for a prostate procedure.
The judge said that would not be a problem as long as he did not seek treatment at Solstice, which had billed Medicare for 2,558 services for Gil.
Lynch said thousands upon thousands of dummied-up claims had been submitted on behalf of "professional patients."
Investigators tracked them on a real-time basis much the way the NYPD tracks crime with the Compstat system.
In the largest Medicare fraud takedown in history, the Brooklyn busts were replicated across the country, including Miami, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La.
All told, 94 people were arrested and accused of fleecing $251 million out of the system.
At Bay Medical, federal agents carted off computers and 20 boxes of evidence while building manager Carlos Bowen described the brisk business.
"They [patients] came by the ambulette load," Bowen said. "Hundreds of them. All of them Russian. They turned away Hispanics, blacks, everybody else."
Dr. Jonathan Wahl had a penthouse apartment in the seven-story building. He also drove a Mercedes and had a yacht docked at a Brooklyn marina, Bowen said.
Wahl, one of two doctors arrested, was released on $500,000 bail. A lawyer for the practice denied the charges.
The feds are still hunting for seven other suspects.