TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Five New Jersey medical professionals were indicted Wednesday on charges of referring medical patients to a certain imaging company in exchange for kickbacks.
A grand jury handed down the indictments against four doctors and one chiropractor on Wednesday, according to Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
They were accused of taking bribes from Rehan “Ray” Zuberi, owner of Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates. Zuberi, 46, of Boonton, pleaded guilty last month to paying out several million dollars in bribes and kickbacks to 2008 to 2014.
Indicted Wednesday were:
Family physician Dr. John Fritz, 47, who lives and works Jersey City and is accused of referring about 4,500 scans to Zuberi’s facilities in exchange for about $500,000 in kickbacks. During months of high referrals, Fritz allegedly took in $6,000 to $7,000 per month from Zuberi’s company.
Internist Dr. Alexander G. Salerno, 47, who lives and works in East Orange and allegedly got $130,000 in kickbacks for referring thousands of scans to Zuberi’s imaging centers between 2009 and 2013. Salerno allegedly received payment in the form of checks and “sham rental agreements,” in which Zuberi’s organization allegedly rented space at Salerno’s medical offices to hide the kickbacks;
Oncologist Dr. Davarajan Iyengar, 61, who lives in Livingston and runs an office in Bayonne, and who allegedly referred patients to Zuberi for MRI and CT scans in exchange for $75,000 in kickbacks disguised as payroll payments;
Obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. William M. Steck Sr., 70, who lives and works in West Orange, and who allegedly referred hundreds of scans to Zuberi in exchange for about $50,000 in his shell companies. Steck was first arrested in October of last year in connection with the investigation;
Chiropractor Dr. Alan P. Epstein, 46, who lives in Manalapan and has an office in Elizabeth, and who allegedly referred more than 200 scans to Zuberi’s facilities. Zuberi allegedly paid for architectural services and permits meant to expand Zuberi’s practice, and also paid for Epstein’s patient transportation expenses. Epstein was also arrested in October in the same investigation.
“A doctor’s duty is to his patients’ care and well-being, not to his personal wealth,” Hoffman said in a news release. “By allegedly selling their medical opinion for kickbacks, the five medical practitioners indicted today have abandoned that duty, thus breaking the law and the trust of those who sought their advice.”
The defendants are all charged with health care claims fraud, commercial bribery, and running. They face maximum sentences ranging from 20 to 25 years in prison.