Doctor Admits Taking Bribes In Test-Referrals Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A pediatrician with a practice in Staten Island and Brooklyn, N.Y., admitted today he accepted 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, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Demetrios Gabriel, 46, of Brooklyn pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.
Including Gabriel, 24 people – 13 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 this and related cases and statements made in court:
Gabriel admitted he accepted bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS and was paid more than $4,500 per month. Gabriel received a flat fee of $3,000 per month in cash, plus additional cash based on the number of patient blood samples his pediatric practice referred to BLS each month. In addition, Gabriel received $1,500 per month through credit card payments to a restaurant he owns.
The bribery count to which Gabriel pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2014. As part of his guilty plea, Gabriel agreed to forfeit $200,000, representing the bribes he received from BLS.
The 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 $520 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: Joseph Corozzo Esq., New York