FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2014
NEWARK, N.J. - A Sussex County, N.J., chiropractor today admitted destroying patient appointment records sought by federal agents investigating potential billing fraud at her medical office, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Mary Jean Negri, 57, of Lafayette, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging her with one count of obstructing an investigation of a health care offense.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
For the past 24 years, Negri, a licensed chiropractor and registered nurse in New Jersey, has owned Lafayette Hilltop Chiropractic Center (Lafayette Hilltop). In May 2012 she discovered the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were investigating Lafayette Hilltop for potentially fraudulent billing practices. Negri suspected that investigators were interested in obtaining Lafayette Hilltop’s patient appointment books as evidence of potential fraud. In an effort to obstruct the government’s investigation, she discarded those patient appointment books.
The obstruction 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 Sept. 29, 2014.
U.S Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, as well as criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit.
Defense counsel: John M. Vazquez Esq., Roseland, N.J.