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New York physicians get prison time over $100 million Medicare fraud

Staten Island physicians, Yonkers internist took thousands in cash kickbacks in return for sending blood samples to New Jersey lab, the DOJ says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Three New York doctors will each serve more than two years in prison for taking bribes as part of an extensive and years-long test referral scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services of Parsippany, New Jersey and various personnel, the Department of Justice announced.

George Roussis and Nicholas Roussis of Staten Island, New York were sentenced to 37 and 24 months in prison, respectively. Ricky J. Sayegh of Scarsdale, New York will serve two and a half years in prison. All three pleaded guilty to charges of accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act.

[Also: Running list of notable 2017 healthcare frauds]

Pediatrician George Roussis and brother Nicholas Roussis, an obstetrician-gynecologist, who had Staten Island, admitted to accepting roughly $175,000 in cash payments from BLS employees and associates from October 2010 to April 2013. BLS rewarded the brothers at their request by paying for strip club trips, including personal performances and even engaging in sex acts with George and Nicholas Roussis. The brothers in turn referred their patients' blood specimens to BLS, generating more than $1.7 million in total lab business for BLS, the DOJ said.

Sayegh practiced in Yonkers, New York as an internal medicine physician. From February 2010 through April 2013, he admitted to having received bribes totaling approximately $400,000 from BLS employees and associates in exchange for referring blood specimens from his patients to BLS. Sayegh's referrals generated more than $1.4 million in lab business for BLS, according to the DOJ.

The investigation has so far yielded 50 convictions, including 36 physicians. The bribery scheme involved millions of dollars in bribes and more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private payers.

"It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case," the DOJ said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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