Paterson Doctor And Wife, Woodland Park Doctor, Charged In Test-Referral Bribe Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
Forty-five defendants have pleaded guilty
NEWARK, N.J. – A cardiologist with a practice in Paterson, New Jersey, his wife, and a doctor with a practice in Woodland Park, New Jersey, were charged today with accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme involving Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
A federal grand jury returned a 16-count indictment charging Aiman Hamdan, 50; his wife, Kristina Hamdan 39; and Yousef Zibdie, 53, all of Wayne, New Jersey, with conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud, and substantive violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act, and wire fraud. The defendants will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler on a later date.
According to the indictment:
From September 2008 to April 2013, Aiman Hamdan, a cardiologist, received from BLS bribes and other items of value, including a $500,000 loan, and a trip to Florida on a private jet for the purpose of fishing and visiting strip clubs, in exchange for generating millions of dollars of patient referrals. Kristina Hamdan paid bribes to several doctors through a sham entity that also paid the Hamdans’ household and personal expenses. Zibdie, doctor of internal medicine with a practice in Woodland Park, was bribed by Kristina Hamdan in exchange for generating more than $900,000 in lab business for BLS.
Aiman Hamdan and Zibdie are the fifth and sixth doctors indicted in connection with the BLS bribery scheme. Brett Ostrager, Salvatore Conte, and Ahmed El Soury all pleaded guilty after being indicted. On June 8, 2016, Ostrager was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Judge Chesler is scheduled to sentence El Soury on July 20, 2017 and Conte on September 20, 2017. Bernard Greenspan was indicted in March 2016 and convicted after trial in March 2017. Greenspan is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls on June 20, 2017.
Aiman Hamdan, Kristina Hamdan and Zibdie face a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on each of the Anti-Kickback and Federal Travel Act counts and a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the wire fraud counts. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
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 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 leading to today’s indictment.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 45 guilty pleas – 31 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.
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.
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 $1.32 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.
Aiman Hamdan: Lee Vartan Esq., New York
Kristina Hamdan: Zahid Quraishi Esq., Morristown, New Jersey
Zibdie: Christopher Adams Esq., Holmdel, New Jersey