The AP reported this morning that leading Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson—who's currently dealing with a number of credibility issues—has an ongoing business relationship and close personal friendship with a Pittsburgh dentist who pleaded guilty to felony fraud after being charged in 2007 with billing patients for procedures that had not been performed. Carson's relationship with the dentist, Alfonso Costa, predates his criminal conviction, which according to the AP involved more than $40,000 in fraudulently billed payments. Costa was fined and sentenced to house arrest and community service, and did not serve jail time.
The AP says that according to Carson's financial disclosure forms, "investments Carson and his wife made through Costa earn the couple between $200,000 and $2 million a year." In the case of one investment for which the AP was able to obtain documentation, Carson and his wife paid $3 million for a Pittsburgh office building that the dentist has a role in managing:
In 2007, a few months before Costa was charged, records show that a pair of corporations was established in Pennsylvania called BenCan LLC, and INBS LLC. Carson and his wife are listed as the sole members of the companies. Though the Carsons live outside Baltimore, the mailing address on the incorporation forms was Costa’s home address in Pittsburgh.
BenCan and INBS then paid more than $3 million to purchase an office building in suburban Pittsburgh. The mailing address for the corporations listed on the deed matches the office of Costa’s real estate firm, Costa Land Co. ... Tax bills for the Pittsburgh office building owned by the couple are mailed to Costa Land Co. A recent lease for a portion of the property was signed on the Carsons’ behalf by the president of Costa’s company.
Costa also works with Carson's scholarship charity and "continues to promote his involvement with Carson’s charity as part of his real estate business, prominently featuring the logo of the Carson Scholars Fund on the company’s website."
A Carson spokesman confirmed that the candidate and Costa "are best friends" and "do hold business investments together."