Medicare Bilked for $100 Million in New Jersey Test-Referral Scheme
Newark, N.J. – April 18, 2017 – The HHS OIG, FBI, IRS, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service have collaborated in what could be the largest number of medical professionals prosecuted in a bribery case. With some $100 million in false payments by Medicare, this test-referral scheme involved physicians taking bribes for referring blood samples to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS).
An internal medicine doctor practicing in Staten Island, New York, today admitted taking bribes in connection with a long-running and elaborate test referral scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Ahmed El Soury, 44, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to Count One of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act, and the honest services wire fraud statute. El Soury pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
El Soury admitted accepting cash bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS. From March 2011 through April 2013, El Soury received bribes totaling more than $66,000 from BLS employees and associates. El Soury’s referrals generated approximately $650,000 in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 44 convictions – 30 of them doctors – in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies. It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.
The investigation has to date recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
The conspiracy charge to which El Soury pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. El Soury’s sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2017.
El Soury is one of five physicians who have been indicted in connection with the BLS bribery scheme. Brett Ostrager – who was indicted Aug. 11, 2015 and pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015 – was sentenced on June 8, 2016 to 37 months in prison. Salvatore Conte was indicted on Jan. 10, 2017, pleaded guilty on Feb. 28, 2017, and will be sentenced June 6, 2017. Bernard Greenspan was indicted on March 14, 2016, convicted at trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls on March 6, 2017, and will be sentenced on June 20, 2017. Thomas Savino was indicted on Dec. 20, 2016 and is pending trial before Judge Chesler.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General HHS OIG, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, with the ongoing investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish, Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, and Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward, Acting Chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office reorganized its health care fraud practice in 2010 and created a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since that time, the office has recovered more than $1.32 billion in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
Defense counsel: Albert Dayan Esq., Kew Gardens, New York
|Written by Susen Sawatzki
Healthcare Industry Expert
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