New York Doctor Admits Taking Bribes in Test Referrals Scheme with New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, NJ—A doctor with a New York practice admitted today to accepting more than $100,000 in exchange for test referrals as part of a massive bribery scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS) of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Peter Deplas, 47, of Glen Head, New York, 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.
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
Deplas admitted he accepted bribes through a sham lease agreement of $5,000 per month, as well as additional monthly cash payments of as much as $7,000. Over the course of 17 months, Deplas accepted approximately $120,500 in bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS, for which BLS received more than $900,000. Deplas admitted he even ordered unnecessary test for his patients in order to justify BLS bribe payments. BLS salesman Cliff Antell negotiated the bribe arrangement with Deplas and paid him the cash, while BLS salesman Craig Nordman wrote the bribe checks pursuant to the sham lease agreement. Antell and Nordman pleaded guilty to their involvement in the scheme on June 10, 2013.
The bribery count to which Deplas pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 29, 2014. As part of his guilty plea, Deplas agreed to forfeit $120,500, representing the bribes he received from BLS.
Including Deplas, 29 people—including 18 physicians—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 recovered more than $7 million to date through forfeiture.
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.