New York Doctor Admits Taking Bribes For Referring Tests To New Jersey Clinical Lab
25th Defendant to Plead Guilty in Connection with Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A pediatrician with a New York practice in Staten Island and Brooklyn admitted today he accepted bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, N.J., its president and numerous associates, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Surender Gorukanti, 46, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.
Including Gorukanti, 25 people – including 14 physicians– have pleaded guilty 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.
Gorukanti admitted he accepted checks of $1,000 per month as bribes from BLS in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS.
The bribery count to which Gorukanti pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2014. As part of his guilty plea, Gorukanti agreed to forfeit $14,000, representing the bribes he received from BLS.
The investigation has recovered more than $7 million to date through forfeiture.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the New Jersey FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Minish, Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven, 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 of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
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 $535 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: Thomas Tormey Esq., New York