News and Press Releases

Doctor pleads guilty in cash-for-patients kickback scheme



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2012


 

NEWARK, N.J. – A New Jersey doctor practicing in Newark admitted today he took kickbacks in connection with a cash-for-patients scheme with a diagnostic facility in Orange, N.J., U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Dr. William Lagrada, 52, of Edison, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an Information charging him with one count of violating the federal healthcare program anti-kickback statute. Lagrada will forfeit $69,880 he received in kickbacks during the years 2010 and 2011.

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

On Dec. 13, 2011, Lagrada was arrested and charged with accepting cash kickback payments from Orange Community MRI (“Orange MRI”), a diagnostic facility, in exchange for patient referrals. Also on Dec. 13, 2011, 12 other New Jersey doctors and a nurse practitioner were arrested and charged in separate complaints with accepting similar cash kickback payments from Orange MRI. As revealed in the Complaints, each of the defendants 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.

Starting in at least 2010, Orange MRI began making monthly cash kickback payments in exchange for patient referrals to Orange MRI 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, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, computed axial tomographies, and dual-emission X-ray absorptiometries were referred. These patient reports were used to calculate the kickback payments.

Lagrada received two separate payments from a cooperating government witness during the course of the investigation. On Oct. 6, 2011, Lagrada accepted $5,820 in cash for his September 2011 referrals to Orange MRI; he accepted another $5,420 in cash on or about Nov. 8, 2011 for his October 2011 referrals to Orange MRI.

On the charge of violating the federal healthcare anti-kickback statute, Lagrada faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17, 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 sentencing and guilty plea.

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

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

Lagrada, William Information

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