Doctor Admits Taking Bribes in Test-Referral Scheme with New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, NJ—A doctor with practices in Wall Township and Howell Township, New Jersey, today admitted accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Anthony DeLuca, 52, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.
Including DeLuca, 32 people—21 of them doctors—have pleaded guilty 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. The investigation has so far recovered more than $10.2 million to date through forfeiture.
According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:
DeLuca admitted he accepted bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS and was paid approximately $1,500 per month, which he received from another person on in his medical office engaged in the same activity.
On April 9, 2013, federal agents arrested David Nicoll, 40, of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, Scott Nicoll, 33, of Wayne, New Jersey, a senior BLS employee and David Nicoll’s brother, and Craig Nordman, 35, of Whippany, New Jersey, a BLS employee and the CEO of Advantech Sales LLC—one of several entities used by BLS to make illegal payments. They were charged by federal complaint with the bribery conspiracy, along with the BLS company and Frank Santangelo, 44, of Boonton, New Jersey. In June 2013, David and Scott Nicoll, Nordman and four other associates of BLS pleaded guilty to charges related to their involvement. Santangelo, a doctor, pleaded guilty in August 2013 to charges relating to his role in the scheme
The bribery count to which DeLuca pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 20, 2015. As part of his guilty plea, DeLuca must forfeit $16,500, representing the total bribe monies received from BLS. U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell; IRS– Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Minish, 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 of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
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 $540 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.