New York Doctor Sentenced To Four Years In Prison For Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A doctor practicing in Staten Island, New York, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison 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, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Thomas V. Savino, 59, of Staten Island, was found guilty at trial in October 2017 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, who imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
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 resulted in 53 convictions – 38 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 recovered more than $15 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Chesler sentenced Savino to three years of supervised release, fined him $100,000 and ordered forfeiture of $27,500.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Judy Ramos; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson in Newark; 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 investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish; Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Liu, Chief of the Opioids Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, Co-Chief of the Public Protection Unit; Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit; and Senior Litigation Counsel Barbara Ward of the office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit.
Defense counsel: Eric R. Breslin Esq., Newark, and Melissa S. Geller Esq., New York