FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – Dinesh Patel, a New Jersey doctor practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty today to participating in a cash-for-patients scheme with a diagnostic facility in Orange, N.J., and agreed to pay back thousands of dollars in bribe money he received in the past two years, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Patel, 58, of Livingston, N.J., pleaded guilty today 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. Patel will forfeit $7,600 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, Patel was arrested and charged with accepting cash kickback payments from Orange Community MRI (“Orange MRI”), a diagnostic facility, in exchange for his referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Also on Dec. 13, 2011, 12 other New Jersey doctors and one 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 were recorded taking envelopes of cash in exchange for 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.
Patel is the fifth person arrested in the December 13 takedown to plead guilty. In all, the five defendants who have pleaded guilty thus far accepted nearly $150,000 in illegal kickbacks from Orange MRI.
Starting in 2010, Orange MRI began making monthly cash kickback payments to Patel in exchange for his referral of patients to Orange MRI for diagnostic tests. At the end of each calendar month, individuals at Orange MRI printed patient reports that detailed how many magnetic resonance imagings (“MRIs”) and computed axial tomographies (“CAT Scans”) were referred by Patel. These patient reports were used to calculate the monthly kickback payment owed to Patel. Pursuant to Patel’s agreement with Orange MRI, he was paid kickbacks for each Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary MRI or CAT Scan referred to Orange MRI.
Patel received two separate payments from a cooperating government witness during the course of the investigation. On Nov. 4, 2011, Patel accepted $500 in cash for his September 2011 referrals to Orange MRI; he accepted another $600 in cash on Nov. 17, 2011, for his October 2011 referrals to Orange MRI.
Judge Cecchi continued Patel on bail pending sentencing. Patel faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. Judge Cecchi set sentencing in the matter for Jan. 9, 2013.
The status of the other defendants charged in the investigation is as follows:
(1) 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.
(2) On May 4, 2012, Yash Khanna, a doctor practicing in East Orange, N.J., was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has set the trial date for October 9, 2012.
(3) Dov Rand, a doctor practicing in West Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on May 18, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24, 2012.
(4) Daisy Deguzman, a doctor practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on June 4, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25, 2012.
(5) On July 13, 2012, Maryam Jafari, another Newark doctor, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks. On Sept.14, 2012, the same grand jury returned a superseding indictment against 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.
(6) William Lagrada, another Newark doctor, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on July 11, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 17, 2012.
(7) On Sept. 7, 2012, Chikezie Onyenso, an Irvington, N.J., doctor, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has not yet set a trial date.
All other defendants remain charged in Criminal Complaints at this time.
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 U.S. Attorney’s Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: Steven D. Feldman Esq., New York