Republican Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, speaks as he officially announces his candidacy for President of the United States at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.

Republican Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, speaks as he officially announces his candidacy for President of the United States at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts May 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.

*They’re coming for you Uncle Ben.

Again.

Yep, Ben Carson, currently the leading Republican presidential candidate has been taking a lot of incoming heat over things he’s said and written aboutr his past. In other words, he’s being scrutinized to the max by his political enemies as well as the press.

Well, the hot water he’s in has just gotten a little hotter with has maintained a business relationship with a close friend convicted of defrauding insurance companies and testified on his behalf, even as the candidate has called for such crimes to be punished harshly.

The AP, via MSN News is reporting that Pittsburgh dentist Alfonso A. Costa pleaded guilty to a felony count of health care fraud after an FBI probe into his oral surgery practice found he had charged for procedures he never performed, according to court records.

Though the crime carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, Costa was able to avoid prison time after Carson helped petition a federal judge for leniency.

That’s different from the position Carson took in 2013 as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign, saying those convicted of health care fraud should go to prison for at least a decade and be forced to forfeit “all of one’s personal possessions.”

At Costa’s 2008 sentencing hearing, Carson described the dentist as “one my closest, if not my very closest friend.”

Before his criminal conviction and the revocation of his license to practice dentistry, Costa built a multimillion-dollar fortune through commercial real estate. Investments Carson and his wife made through Costa earn the couple between $200,000 and $2 million a year, according to financial records that Carson was required to file when he declared his candidacy.

Doug Watts, the campaign’s spokesman, said Wednesday he was unable to immediately respond to specific questions about land deals involving Carson and Costa. The AP contacted Watts on Tuesday and again Wednesday.

“I will confirm they are best friends and that they do hold business investments together,” Watts said.

Costa did not respond to messages seeking comment.

This report could be problematic for Carson. That’s because despite his tough-on-crime message, the doctor and his wife kept their investment with Costa in the years since his conviction. The AP report goes on to say that 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.

Hmm, if Carson is not careful, he could find the word hypocrite attached to him pretty soon. In any event, the AP hit piece, er, article is pretty lengthy. You can read it at MSN News.