A pair of brothers who operated a fleet of ambulances in Bucks Co. pleaded guilty today in defrauding taxpayers of more than $2.6 million.

Aleksandr N. Zagorodny and Sergey Zagorodny operated the Feasterville-based MedEx Ambulance Inc. from 2007 through 2012.

Federal prosecutors said the Zagorodny brothers ran their seven ambulances like a fleet of taxis, unnecessarily transporting patients who they knew were able to walk and then submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

According to the 41-count indictment, the brothers transported a group of 27 patients to and from kidney dialysis three times a week.

Medicare pays for patients to be taken by ambulance to regularly scheduled appointments if they are bedridden, unable to walk, or unable to sit in a wheel chair. But none of the group of 27 qualified, prosecutors said.

MedEx charged Medicare $1,200 for each of the 27 every week. Prosecutors said they could have been transported safely by other means.

Some of the patients, who had little or no problem walking, were videotaped climbing onto stretchers. In addition, the Zagorodny brothers ordered their employees to tell their patients not to walk to and from the ambulances. Prosecutors said the brothers ordered it so that - in the event of an investigation - federal agents would not be able to detect the fraud.

Employees knew their services were medically unnecessary. But according to prosecutors the Zagorodnys forced them to fake reports and reprimanded them if they didn't. Court papers state the brothers required that drivers omit any information indicating the patients could walk or be transported by other means.

Though the indictment held the Zagorodnys responsible for $2.6 million, prosecutors said that MedEx reaped more than $3.3 million from taxpayers for the bogus runs.

Federal agents seized four MedEx ambulances, three bank accounts and the company's headquarters. They are all subject to criminal forfeiture proceedings.

Prosecutors said they offered the brothers a plea deal. The Zagorodnys turned them down. The guilty plea takes responsibility for multiple counts of the following: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud; health care fraud; making false statements in a health care matter and wire fraud.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 2 before the Honorable Berle M. Schiller.