New Jersey Gastroenterologist Admits Taking Cash Kickbacks For Patient Referrals
NEWARK, N.J. – A physician practicing gastroenterology and internal medicine in West Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty today to receiving cash kickbacks for diagnostic testing referrals, becoming the 13th health care provider and 14th defendant to be convicted in connection with the government’s investigation of illegal payments made by an Orange, N.J., diagnostic testing facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
John Green, M.D., 60, of Basking Ridge, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an information charging him with soliciting and receiving more than $14,000 in illegal cash kickbacks for patient referrals in violation of the federal health care anti-kickback statute.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Green was a licensed and board-eligible gastroenterologist who operated his own medical practice in West Orange. From January 2009 through December 2011, Green agreed to take cash payments from Orange Community MRI LLC (“Orange MRI”) in exchange for MRIs and CAT scans he referred to the diagnostic testing facility. During his guilty plea proceeding, Green admitted to receiving cash on a per-patient basis for approximately three years.
Green met with an Orange MRI representative nicknamed “Kenny” on Oct. 6, 2011, and Nov. 10, 2011, at Green’s medical office in West Orange. On each occasion Green received an envelope with more than $800 in cash for referring patients.
The anti-kickback charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for March 25, 2014.
In addition to the 14 individuals convicted as a result of the investigation, 11 health care providers, including Green, have agreed to forfeit a total of $353,910 in illegal cash kickbacks. Additionally, Ashokkumar Babaria, 63, of Moorestown, N.J., Orange MRI’s former medical director, agreed to forfeit his revenue from corrupt referrals, which the government estimates is in excess of $2 million. Chirag Patel, 38, of Warren, N.J., Orange MRI’s former executive director, also agreed to forfeit $89,180 in corrupt gains.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, who investigated the case with criminal investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott B. McBride and Deputy Chief Joseph G. Mack of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $500 million 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: Kevin A. Buchan Esq. and James A. Plaisted Esq., Roseland, N.J.