Tom's River, N.J., Chiropractor Admits Receiving Bribes For Patient Referrals
NEWARK, N.J. – A chiropractor with a practice in Toms River, N.J., admitted today to accepting bribes to refer a number of his patients to a New Jersey-licensed pain management physician, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Norman Eastburn, 48, of Jackson, N.J., pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of violating the Anti-Kickback statute. He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Eastburn was paid a cash fee per patient he referred to the pain management physician. As part of the scheme, the pair negotiated specific kickback amounts that would be paid based on which payor would be billed – Medicare or a private healthcare insurer – and what type of pain treatment would be rendered.
Eastburn indicated to the pain physician that a medical doctor’s involvement in pain procedures would increase Eastburn’s likelihood of being reimbursed by insurers. As an example, Eastburn recounted a prior situation in which he misled a patient by telling her that she required an injection that he did not then believe, in fact, was medically necessary, then then paid a doctor $500 in cash to administer it.
The violation of the Anti-Kickback statute carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Eastburn has agreed to forfeit to the United States the money he was paid in bribes. Sentencing is scheduled for July 8, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, with the investigation.
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 $535 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.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Peter Carter Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark