News and Press Releases

Health care practitioner pleads guilty to accepting cash kickbacks for patient referrals



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2012


 

NEWARK, N.J. – Daisy Deguzman, a New Jersey doctor practicing in Newark, today admitted her role in a cash-for-patients scheme with a diagnostic facility in Orange, N.J., U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Deguzman, 69, of Livingston, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to an Information charging her with one count of violating the federal healthcare program anti-kickback statute.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On December 13, 2011, Deguzman was arrested and charged with accepting cash kickback payments from Orange Community MRI (“Orange MRI”), a diagnostic facility, in exchange for her referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Twelve other New Jersey doctors and one nurse practitioner were arrested that day and charged in separate Complaints with accepting similar cash kickback payments from Orange MRI. Each defendant was recorded taking envelopes of cash in exchange for their patient referrals. On Dec. 8, 2011, an Orange MRI executive was arrested and charged in a separate Complaint in connection with his participation in the scheme.

Deguzman is the third defendant to plead guilty. Jose Castaneda, a nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on April 3, 2012. On May 4, 2012, Yash Khanna, another doctor, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks. Dov Rand, a doctor practicing in West Orange, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on May 18, 2012. All other defendants remain charged in criminal Complaints at this time.

Starting in at least 2010, Orange MRI began making monthly cash kickback payments to Deguzman in exchange for her referral of patients for diagnostic tests. At the end of each calendar month, individuals at Orange MRI printed Orange MRI patient reports that detailed how many magnetic resonance imagings (“MRIs”) and computed axial tomographies (“CAT Scans”) were referred by Deguzman. These patient reports were used to calculate the kickback payment owed to Deguzman. Pursuant to Deguzman’s agreement with Orange MRI, she was paid kickbacks for each Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary MRI or CAT Scan referred.

Deguzman received three separate payments from a cooperating government witness during the course of the investigation. On Oct. 11, 2011, Deguzman accepted $1,700 in cash for her September 2011 referrals to Orange MRI; she accepted another $1,130 on Nov. 17, 2011 for her October 2011 referrals to Orange MRI, and another $1,000 on Dec. 6, 2011 for her November 2011 referrals to Orange MRI.

The count to which Deguzman pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $25,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Mack and Scott B. McBride of the Office’s Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit.

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Defense counsel: Daniel A. Giaquinto Esq., Bridgewater, N.J.

Deguzman, Daisy Information

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