Doctor Pleads Guilty in New Jersey Test Referrals Scheme

May 19, 2014

A New York physician pleaded guilty in a U.S. district court to accepting roughly $150,000 in bribes in exchange for test referrals, part of a scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services of Parsippany, N.J.

According to court documents and statements, Michele Martinho accepted $5,000 in cash per month between September 2010 and April 2013 in exchange for referring patient blood specimens to BLS, netting the company more than $350,000. The cash bribes were paid by BLS salesman Kevin Kerekes, who pleaded in June 2013.

Martinho faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the US. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. She has already forfeited the $155,000.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 8.

Twenty-seven people, including 16 physicians, have pleaded guilty in the bribery scheme, which raked in more than $100 million in Medicare and private insurer payments. The government has recovered more than $7 million through forfeitures, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. — Kellen Owings

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