NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than a dozen doctors in New Jersey are accused of taking illegal kickbacks to refer patients to a diagnostic facility in Orange.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Federal prosecutors say 15 doctors and other health care professionals were paid to refer patients to Orange Community MRI, which began as early as 2010.

“Patients have every right to expect that their doctors will recommend medical service providers because they do the best job not because they provide the biggest bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Officials don’t know how much money was involved, but Fishman said payments made to the providers ranged from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000 a month.

“Orange bought from the doctors the allegiance that they owed by oath and by law to their patients,” Fishman said.

Officials tracked at least 32 separate payments made to or by the 15 defendants for a total of $51,500 in just a two-month period between early October and December 2011.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

“All of the defendants who were arrested this morning were charged with soliciting and accepting bribes,” Fishman said.

Fourteen health care practitioners with offices in Newark, Orange, East Orange, West Orange or Irvington were arrested Tuesday morning. Each is charged with one count of violating federal health care anti-kickback statutes. The charge carries a potential sentence of five years in prison and fines.

Fishman says one practitioner, Dr. Dov Rand of West Orange, was heard on tape bragging that his appearance on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” would bring in more referrals.

OCM’s executive director Chirag Patel was arrested on Dec. 8 and released on $750,000 bail.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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