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48 charged in massive Medicaid fraud case

NEW YORK — Federal agents and New York City police say 48 people who were part of a nationwide prescription drug ring have been charged in a Medicaid fraud case.

Authorities say the arrests on Tuesday are the result of an investigation of a so-called pill diversion scheme. The scheme involved obtaining expensive medication — sometimes worth more than $1,000 a bottle — for such ailments as HIV and asthma from Medicaid recipients in the city.

The pills were then allegedly channeled to a distributor who resold them to pharmacies.

Authorities estimated that Medicaid lost at least $500 million in reimbursements on pills diverted into the secondhand market.

Arrests were made in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida and Texas. The FBI also seized more than 250,000 pills worth $16 million.