New Jersey Doctor Convicted Of Taking Cash Kickbacks For Patient Referrals
NEWARK, N.J. – A doctor practicing in Newark was convicted at trial of receiving cash kickbacks for diagnostic testing referrals, becoming the 14th doctor and 16th defendant to be convicted in connection with the government’s investigation of illegal payments made by an Orange, N.J., diagnostic testing facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Maryam Jafari, 43, was convicted of all three counts of a superseding indictment charging her with conspiracy and two counts of violating the federal health care anti-kickback statute after a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. The jury returned the guilty verdicts late Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 4, 2014) after two hours of deliberations.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
Jafari was a doctor licensed in New Jersey to practice internal medicine and operated an office in Newark. From 2010 through December 2011, Jafari solicited and received cash kickbacks from Orange Community MRI LLC (Orange MRI) in exchange for MRIs and CAT scans she referred to the diagnostic testing facility.
At the end of each month, OCM printed patient reports that included information such as dates of service, patient name, referring health care practitioner and medical insurance to be billed. The reports were used to tally the number of tests referred by each doctor and determine the amount of kickback payment paid to the referring healthcare provider.
On Nov. 22, 2011, Jafari met with a cooperating witness at Jafari’s office and accepted a white envelope containing $1,965 in cash, payments for three months of tests Jafari referred to Orange MRI. On Dec. 6, she accepted another payment of $420 in cash for referrals from October 2011. A trial on these charges in 2012 ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
The charges of which Jafari was convicted are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, who investigated the case with criminal investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott B. McBride and Deputy Chief Joseph G. Mack of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
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 $500 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: Maria Noto Esq., Matawan, N.J.