NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - An ongoing federal investigation of a New Jersey medical laboratory has netted guilty pleas from more than two dozen doctors, the latest Tuesday from a physician who admitted taking cash bribes from lab employees.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An ongoing federal investigation of a New Jersey medical laboratory has netted guilty pleas from more than two dozen doctors, the latest Tuesday from a physician who admitted taking cash bribes from lab employees.
Bret Ostrager, 50, a Woodbury, New York, resident with practices in Nassau County, pleaded guilty to three counts in an indictment charging him with conspiracy.
Ostrager admitted getting monthly cash bribes of roughly $3,300 from lab employees and associates of Parsippany-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services. He also periodically solicited and received several meals and tickets to entertainment and sporting events that cost thousands of dollars.
In exchange, Ostrager referred patient blood samples to the lab, which generated about $909,000 in business for the firm. He now faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced March 29.
Prosecutors say the bribes were part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory. They say the company bribed doctors to refer patients and perform unnecessary tests, reaping millions of dollars.
Thirty-nine people — including 26 physicians — have pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme. Its organizers have admitted the scam involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to the company from Medicare and various private insurance companies.
The investigation has recovered more than $12 million so far through forfeiture.
Also Tuesday, a physician's assistant who accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from a northern New Jersey firm in return for test referrals was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for his role in the scheme.
Federal prosecutors said Leonard Marchetta, 49, of Staten Island in New York City, received a 42-month sentence. He admitted getting about $3,000 a month in return for referring patient blood specimens to the lab, which generated roughly $660,000 in lab business for the firm.
Marchetta will have to serve three years of supervised release once he is freed and will forfeit $72,000.
Several people connected with the lab have pleaded guilty, including president and part-owner David Nicoll and his brother, Scott, a senior employee.
Authorities have said David Nicoll used profits from the scheme to buy, among other items, a $580,000 Yenko Nova automobile and a $300,000 Ferrari. He also allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on tickets to sporting events. To persuade the doctors to refer their patients' blood specimens to BLS for analysis, the company set up bogus lease agreements, the U.S. attorney's office has said.
Officials have said that no other individuals are facing charges in the case but that the investigation continues.