The human heart pumps blood throughout the body, supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissues while removing carbon dioxide and other waste. (It is central to all body operations and without it, we cannot live.) Fraud operations are similar. Today’s spotlight shines on a cardiologist and his wife who had offices in South Paterson, New Jersey and were at the heart of a Medicare fraud scam involving millions of dollars in bribes. Their illegal acts were central to the ruse that caused more than $100 million in Medicare payments to be paid to a now-defunct medical laboratory.
Over nearly four years, the cardiologist’s wife, who was a former salesperson for the Parsippany lab, gave bribes to her husband and other doctors to refer patient blood specimens to the lab. Her husband, the cardiologist, received bribes from the lab that funded a $500,000 loan and a trip to Florida on a private jet where he went fishing and visited strip clubs. (In just two months, the cardiologist referred about $53,000 in blood samples to the lab who paid for his extracurricular activities.)
The wife also paid bribes to multiple doctors through a sham entity. (She paid her household and personal expenses out of the same account that she created and controlled so the lab would not be suspected.) One doctor, an internist with a practice in Woodland Park, generated more than $900,000 in business for the lab and various private insurance companies in exchange for the bribes he received. (The internist received monthly bribe payments of approximately $80,000.)
The 50-year-old cardiologist from Wayne pleaded guilty to his part in the Medicare fraud scam. Court records show that he was sentenced to three years of probation. His 40-year-old wife was sentenced to 41 months in prison and must forfeit $1,209,890.36. (The prison sentences were light considering the cardiologist was facing five years and the wife, 25 years behind bars.)
As of May 2018, 53 individuals (38 were doctors) have been convicted of their involvement in the Medicare fraud scam that made a Parsippany medical lab millions of dollars. (Supposedly, the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.) The investigation has recovered more than $13 million through forfeiture to date. (What about the other $87 million? Perhaps the rest was accounted for when the medical laboratory pleaded guilty, closed its doors and forfeited all assets.) The heart of this destructive scam has effectively been stopped, taking 53 fraudsters out of circulation.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Paterson doctor, wife plead guilty in test-referral bribe scheme,” published by the Montana Standard on January 16, 2018.
The cardiologist with offices in South Paterson accused of taking bribes, trip, and loan in exchange for referring patients to a medical lab in Parsippany that made millions through a long running test-referral scheme pleaded guilty on Wednesday, according to acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
Aiman Hamdan, 50, of Wayne, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act. His wife, Kristina Hamdan, 39, of Wayne, pleaded guilty to violating the federal anti-kickback statute and conspiracy to commit money laundering.