Bergen County Doctor Convicted Of Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A family doctor practicing in Bergen County, New Jersey, was convicted today of all 10 counts of an indictment charging him with accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Bernard Greenspan, 79, of River Edge, New Jersey, was convicted of one count of conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud; three substantive violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute; three substantive violations of the Federal Travel Act; and three substantive violations of wire fraud. Greenspan was convicted following a 11-day trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated just over four hours before returning the guilty verdict.
“We rightfully expect doctors to make their medical decisions based solely on what’s in the best interest of a patient,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Whether they are dealing with a routine procedure or grappling with a potentially serious condition, patients should never have to worry that a doctor has violated that trust for personal greed. As we showed at trial – and the jury agreed – Greenspan abused his position and broke a wide range of federal laws when he accepted cash bribes and other illicit services in return for blood test referrals to BLS.”
“Patients have every right to insist that their physician is making medical referrals based on what is best for the patient—not what’s best for the doctor’s bank account,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the Newark FBI Field Office. “Bernard Greenspan decided to accept bribes in exchange for referrals and deprived patients of their right to honest services. These types of kickback arrangements cripple the healthcare industry and severely impact patient care. The FBI remains committed to investing its resources to combat these types of schemes.”
According to the indictment and testimony at trial, between March 2006 and April 2013, Greenspan received bribes totaling approximately $200,000 from BLS employees and associates. Greenspan periodically solicited and received monthly bribe payments in the form of sham rental, service agreement, and consultant payments.
In addition, Greenspan solicited and received other bribes, including payment for holiday parties for Greenspan and his office staff and additional cash bribes for ordering specific blood tests. In addition, BLS hired – at Greenspan’s specific request –a patient of Greenspan’s with whom he was having a sexual relationship. Greenspan’s referrals generated approximately $3 million in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 43 convictions – 29 of them of doctors – in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies. It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.
“This verdict should serve as a warning to any health care provider that dares to put personal profit ahead of proper patient care,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS-OIG, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to undermine the federally funded health care programs intended for our most vulnerable Americans.”
“Dr. Greenspan violated the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals when he pledged to ‘come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice,” said Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn of U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division. “The culture of kickbacks and bribery have no place in our healthcare system, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was proud to do our part, working with our law enforcement partners to ensure justice was served today. Congratulations on the successful outcome to the agents and prosecutors who untiringly worked on investigating this case and preparing for trial.”
The investigation has recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
The conspiracy, Anti-Kickback, and Federal Travel Act counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud charges are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison per count. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Greenspan’s sentencing is scheduled for June 20, 2017.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gallagher; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Buthorn; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Lampert with the ongoing investigation.
The government was represented at trial by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and Danielle Alfonzo Walsman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $1.32 billion in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
Defense counsel: Damian Conforti Esq. and Eric Kanefsky Esq., Newark, NJ