New York Doctor Charged With Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – An internal medicine doctor practicing in Staten Island, New York, was charged today with accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ahmed El Soury, 44, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark. The indictment charges El Soury with one count of conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud; three substantive violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute; three substantive violations of the Federal Travel Act; and three substantive violations of wire fraud. El Soury will be arraigned at a later date.
According to the indictment:
Between March 2011 and April 2013, El Soury allegedly received cash bribes totaling approximately $65,000 from BLS employees and associates. In February 2012, El Soury solicited and received an increase in his monthly bribe payments for having persuaded another health care provider to refer patient blood samples to BLS.
El Soury’s referrals generated approximately $650,000 in lab business for BLS.
The Anti-Kickback and Federal Travel Act counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud charges are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
El Soury is the third physician to be indicted in connection with the BLS bribery scheme. Brett Ostrager – who was indicted Aug. 11, 2015 and pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015 – was sentenced on June 8, 2016 to 37 months in prison. Bernard Greenspan was indicted on March 14, 2016 and is scheduled for trial on Jan. 31, 2017 before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 41 guilty pleas – 27 of them from 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 $12 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 Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn; 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 Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and 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 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 $1.32 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: Albert Dayan Esq., Kew Gardens, New York