According to a report, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson had a business relationship with Alfonso Costa, a dentist and oral surgeon in Pittsburgh, who was convicted of a felony count of health care fraud.
The Associated Press notes that Costa pleaded guilty to the charge after being caught by the FBI charging insurance companies for procedures that he never did, per court records.
Costa could have been sentenced up to 10 years in jail, but did not go to prison after Carson asked a federal judge in 2008 for leniency in the case.
Carson told the judge that Costa is "one my closest, if not my very closest friend."
"We became friends about a decade ago because we discovered that we were so much alike and shared the same values and principles that govern our lives," Carson explained to the judge.
"Next to my wife of 32 years, there is no one on this planet that I trust more than Al Costa," Carson added.
For his part, Costa was part of the board of the Carson Scholars Fund, a Carson charity, and is still leading fundraising efforts for it in Pittsburgh, reports AP.
In the past, before he was convicted and lost his dental license, Costa reportedly made millions of dollars in commercial real estate. Carson and his wife Candy reportedly made between $200,000 and $2 million a year by investing in Costa Land Management, according to Carson's own financial records that were filed when he decided to run for president.
Doug Watts, Carson's campaign spokesman, told AP, "I will confirm they are best friends and that they do hold business investments together."
Costa did not issue any comments to the news wire service.
Mother Jones reports that Carson wrote in his 2013 book, "America the Beautiful" that he would reduce health care fraud by using the Saudi Arabian Solution.
"I would not advocate chopping off people's limbs, but there would be some very stiff penalties for this kind of fraud, such as loss of one's medical license for life, no less than ten years in prison, and loss of all of one's personal possessions," Carson stated.