FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – A North Arlington, N.J., physician with an internal medicine practice in Newark today admitted receiving cash kickbacks for diagnostic testing referrals of his patients, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Lucio Cardoso, M.D., 54, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to an Information charging him with one count of soliciting and receiving 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:
From March 2010 through December 2011, Cardoso agreed with representatives of Orange Community MRI LLC (“Orange MRI”), a diagnostic testing center in Orange, N.J., that Orange MRI would pay him a certain amount of money for each MRI and CAT scan he referred to their facility. Cardoso said Orange MRI paid him $75 for each Medicare or Medicaid patient he referred for an MRI. He also received $50 for each CAT scan referral and $25 for each ultrasound referral.
Cardoso admitted that on Oct. 4, 2011, he received $200 in cash from a government informant at his doctor’s office in Newark in exchange for referrals. On Oct. 13, 2011, again at his office in Newark, Cardoso received another kickback for patient referrals, this time $275 in cash.
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 Jan. 30, 2013.
Cardoso is the seventh person in the government’s investigation of Orange MRI and its corrupt referring doctors to plead guilty. Five of the previous six defendants that have pleaded guilty, all health care providers who referred patients to Orange MRI, have agreed to forfeit nearly $150,000 in illegal kickbacks from Orange MRI. The sixth defendant, Ashokkumar Babaria, Orange MRI’s former medical director, agreed to forfeit his revenues traceable to corrupt referrals, which the government has estimated could reach as much as $2 million.
With respect to the other defendants charged in the investigation:
• Jose Castaneda, a nurse practitioner formerly practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on April 3, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14, 2012.
• Yash Khanna, M.D., a doctor practicing in East Orange, was indicted on May 4, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has set the trial date for Dec. 3, 2012.
• Dov Rand, M.D., a doctor practicing in West Orange, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on May 18, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24, 2012.
• Daisy Deguzman, M.D., a doctor practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on June 4, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25, 2012.
• William Lagrada, M.D., another Newark doctor, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on July 11, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 17, 2012.
• Maryam Jafari, M.D., another Newark doctor, was indicted on July 13, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks. On Sept. 14, 2012, the same grand jury handed up a superseding indictment against Dr. Jafari, charging her with one count of conspiracy and two counts of accepting kickbacks. Judge Cecchi has set the trial date for Oct. 22, 2012.
• Chikezie Onyenso, M.D., an Irvington doctor, was indicted on Sept. 7, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has set a trial date for Nov. 16, 2012.
• Dinesh Patel, M.D., another Newark doctor, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Sept. 19, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2013.
• Ashokkumar Babaria, M.D., a Moorestown, N.J., radiologist and Orange MRI’s former medical director and owner-in-fact, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Sept. 27, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2013.
• The remaining defendants charged in the investigation are charged in criminal complaints at this time.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, as well as criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s criminal investigator program, for the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott B. McBride and Joseph G. Mack of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: John I. Gizzo Esq., Nutley, N.J.