On Oct. 17, seven New Jersey medical professionals were accused of being involved in a scheme that gave them financial kickbacks in return for referring patients to a particular medical testing facility. In total, it was believed that nearly 20,000 patients were referred between the seven medical professionals in exchange for approximately $200,000.
All seven of the accused individuals, six of whom were doctors while the seventh was a chiropractor, were taken into custody on Oct. 15. In return for referring their patients to the medical testing facility, the medical professionals were accused of receiving cash, gift cards and construction work for their alleged contributions. They were all charged with second-degree healthcare claims fraud in addition to third-degree commercial bribery. An attorney for one of the accused physicians stated that the allegations against their client were unfounded and that he had no prior criminal record.
The owner of the medical testing facility, a 45-year-old man who was accused of being involved in the kickback scheme, was charged for his alleged involvement in June. Authorities believed that that the kickbacks for referrals dated back to at least 2008 and resulted in millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.
Professionals who are accused of fraud face consequences that go beyond legal penalties. Certain professionals could lose their license if they are convicted, which leaves them with the inability to earn income. Their defense team may have a number of options that can be pursued, including fighting the charges or negotiating a guilty plea on a lesser charge. The route that the defense may take depends upon the evidence that the prosecution has against the accused person and any evidence the defense has that may demonstrate that a client might not be guilty.
Source: NJ.com, "7 doctors charged in medical kickback scheme in central, north Jersey", Susan K. Livio, October 17, 2014