New York Doctor Convicted Of Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A doctor practicing in Staten Island, New York, was convicted at trial today for 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, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Thomas V. Savino, 58, of Staten Island, was found guilty on all 10 counts of an indictment charging him 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.
Savino was convicted following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated for two and a half hours before returning its verdict.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
From July 2012 through April 2013, Savino received cash bribes totaling at least $25,000 from BLS employees and associates in return for referring his patients’ blood specimens to BLS. Savino’s referrals generated approximately $375,000 in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 51 convictions – 37 of them 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 $13 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
The Anti-Kickback and Federal Travel Act counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud counts 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. Sentencing is set for Feb. 14, 2018.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick 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 Joseph W. Cronin; 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 Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Liu of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office reorganized its health care fraud practice in 2010 and created a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since that time, the office has recovered more than $1.37 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: Eric R. Breslin Esq., Newark and Melissa S. Geller, New York