Bergen County, New Jersey, Doctor Charged With Taking Bribes
Thirty-nine defendants have pleaded guilty
NEWARK, N.J. – A family doctor practicing in Bergen County, New Jersey, was charged today 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, 78, of Saddlebrook, New Jersey, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark. The 10-count indictment charges Greenspan with 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 will be arraigned at a later date.
“The charges contained in the indictment allege an extremely lucrative pattern of soliciting and accepting illegal payments for referrals to a specific testing lab,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “This indictment is part of our continued commitment to prosecute those physicians who sought to enrich themselves through their involvement in the BLS bribery scheme.”
“The FBI, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, will continue to investigate allegations of fraud and kickback schemes that undermine the integrity of our health care system," stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Campi. "We urge anyone aware of this type of illegal activity to contact the FBI.”
“This indictment is another reminder that kickbacks in connection with federal health care programs are illegal and unacceptable,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Taking such payments subverts the notion that patients should come before profits.”
To date, 39 people – 26 of them doctors – have pleaded guilty 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. The investigation has recovered more than $11.5 million through forfeiture.
According to the indictment:
Between March 2006 and April 2013, Greenspan received approximately $200,000 in bribes from BLS employees and associates. Greenspan periodically solicited, and received from the BLS employees and associates, monthly bribe payments in the form of sham rental, service agreement, and consultant payments. Greenspan solicited and received other bribes, including payment for holiday parties for Greenspan and his office staff. 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.
Greenspan is the second physician to be indicted in connection with the BLS bribery scheme. Brett Ostrager was indicted on Aug. 11, 2015, and pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015, after his motion to dismiss the indictment was denied by Judge Chesler. He is awaiting sentencing.
Each of the Anti-Kickback and Federal Travel Act counts carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison; each of the wire fraud counts carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. All of the counts carry a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Campi; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Lampert.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, and Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward, Acting Chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
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 $1.29 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., Newark, NJ