Doctor Admits Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – An internist with a practice in Montclair, N.J., admitted today accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, N.J., its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Charles Goldberg, 60, of West Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.
Including Goldberg, 23 people – 12 of them physicians– 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.
According to documents filed in these and related cases and statements made in court:
Goldberg admitted accepting bribes of $1,800 per month through a sham lease agreement with BLS, which identified the waiting room, bathroom and one examination room in Goldberg’s office as being leased.
The bribery count to which Goldberg pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced on a date to be determined. As part of his guilty plea, Goldberg agreed to forfeit $58,000, representing the bribes he received from BLS.
The BLS investigation has recovered more than $7 million to date through forfeiture.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Minish, 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.
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 $535 million 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: A. Ross Pearlson Esq., West Orange, N.J.