NEW YORK: An Indian-origin internal medicine physician has been sentenced to one year in prison by a US court for accepting more than USD 174,000 in bribes in exchange for patient referrals to a mobile diagnostic company.
Paresh Patel, 55 of New Jersey had previously pleaded guilty before US District Judge Mary Cooper to an information charging him with violating the Anti-Kickback Statute.
Anti-Kickback Statute is a criminal statute designed to protect patients and federal health care programmes from fraud and abuse by inhibiting the use of money to influence health care decisions.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from September 2009 through December 2013, Patel accepted more than USD 174,000 in bribes for referring his patients to a mobile diagnostic testing company operated by Nita Patel and Kirtish Patel, who are of no relation to Patel.
As part of the bribes, the diagnostic testing company paid Patel’s property tax obligations and home renovation expenses.
In addition to the prison term, Patel was also ordered to pay USD 6,000 fine. He has also forfeited more than USD 174,000 he received as part of the bribery scheme.
Nita and Kirtish Patel had pleaded guilty in November last year to health care fraud for forging physician signatures on diagnostic reports that were never reviewed by a specialist physician and were actually authored by Kirtish Patel, who did not have a medical license.