- A federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted a Staten Island doctor on Tuesday with accepting bribes in exchange for referrals to a state testing facility.
- According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Thomas Savino was charged with one count each of conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud for helping to pad the pockets of Parsippany, NJ-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, its president and associates.
- Savino is the fourth physician indicted in the BLS bribery scheme.
The case alleges that from July 2012 to April 2013, Savino sent BLS referrals that generated about $375,000 in business for the lab. In return, he was paid at least $25,000, DOJ said.
In addition to the conspiracy counts, the indictment charges Savino with three substantive violations each of the Anti-Kickback Statute, Federal Travel Act and wire fraud. The first two carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud could get him up to 20 years behind bars.
BLS pleaded guilty in June and shuttered its business, forfeiting all assets.
The BLS investigation has led to 41 guilty pleas and involves the largest number of physicians — 27 — ever prosecuted in a bribery scheme, according to DOJ. Overall, BLS bilked Medicare and various private insurers of more than $100 million, and paid millions in bribes in return.
The government has so far recovered more than $12 million through the forfeiture.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman created a stand-alone healthcare and government fraud unit in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office after taking office in 2009. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $1.32 billion in fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture, DOJ said.
The case is one of a number to come under scrutiny in the crackdown on healthcare fraud.
In June, the DOJ and HHS joint Medicare Fraud Strike Force announced a nationwide sweep leading to civil and criminal charges against 301 people involving roughly $900 million in false claims. And last week, a federal court convicted the head of a Miami-area home health agency of conspiracy in a $2.5 million Medicare kickback scheme.