Doctor Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Taking Bribes In Test-Referrals Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A doctor with a medical practice in Randolph, New Jersey was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gary Safier, 73, of Randolph, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes and one count of filing a false tax return. Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
Including Safier, 39 people – 27 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. 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 $12 million through forfeiture. A 28th physician – Bernard Greenspan – was indicted in March. His trial is scheduled for September 2016.
According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:
Safier admitted that from August 2007 through March 2013, he accepted bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS. Initially, the bribes were paid under the guise of bogus lease and service agreements between BLS and his medical office. Later, BLS paid Safier in monthly cash payments that, at times, exceeded $10,000 per month. According to the information, the total amount of bribes paid by BLS to Safier from the sham agreements and cash payments exceeded $353,000.
Safier also admitted that on his federal tax returns for 2010 and 2011, he failed to report $90,000 in bribes he received from BLS.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Safier to two years of supervised release. He must also forfeit $353,152.84.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Assistant Inspector in Charge James R. Buthorn; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; and IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen with the ongoing investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish, 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: Raymond M. Brown Esq., Woodbridge, New Jersey