Bergen County Doctor Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison for Taking Bribes in Test-Referral Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A family doctor practicing in Bergen County, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 41 months in prison for 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, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Bernard Greenspan, 79, of River Edge, New Jersey, was convicted March 6, 2017, 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, who imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
“The defendant in this case abused his position of trust by taking bribes in return for referring his patients to BLS,” Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said. “People need to trust that their doctors are making medical decisions based on what is in their best interest and not based on who will pay them a bribe.”
“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 44 convictions – 30 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.
“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,” Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn of U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division, said. “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.”
The investigation has recovered more than $13 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Walls sentenced Greenspan to one year of supervised release, fined him $125,000 and ordered forfeiture of $203,693.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick 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 Scott J. 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.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, 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 $1.34 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