NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, doctor was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for his role in a test-referral bribe scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Basel Batarseh, 57, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act. Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Batarseh, an internal medicine doctor with a practice in West New York, New Jersey, accepted bribes totaling more than $104,000 from BLS employees and associates between November 2007 and August 2010. In exchange, Batarseh generated more than $1.3 million in lab business for BLS.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Batarseh to one year of supervised release, fined him $7,500 and ordered forfeiture of $104,611.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 53 convictions – 38 of them 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.
The investigation has to date 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.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley W. Cohen in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonca; 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 is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish, Assistant U.S. Attorney 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, of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
Defense counsel: Curtis LaForge Esq., Saddle Brook, New Jersey