New York Doctor Pleads Guilty In Connection With Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – An internal medicine doctor practicing in Yonkers, New York, today admitted taking bribes in connection with a long-running and elaborate test referral 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.
Ricky J. Sayegh, 44, of Scarsdale, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with accepting cash bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Sayegh admitted accepting cash bribes in return for referring blood specimens to BLS. From February 2010 through April 2013, Sayegh received bribes totaling approximately $400,000 from BLS employees and associates. Sayegh’s referrals generated more than $1.4 million in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 45 convictions – 31 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 $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 charge to which Sayegh pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sayegh’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 6, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney 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.
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.
Defense counsel: Michael Bachner Esq., New York