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Radiology Kickbacks Case Yields Prison Terms

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Doctors and others involved in a radiology kickback scheme in New Jersey are starting to draw prison sentences.

A cardiologist from Edison, New Jersey, is the latest to plead guilty. He faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000; he has already agreed to forfeit $101,750 in bribe money.

The cardiologist is 60-year-old Shashi Agarwal, MBBS, who has a practice in East Orange, New Jersey. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, he pleaded guilty on Valentine’s Day to soliciting and receiving kickbacks for referring patients to Orange Community MRI in Orange, New Jersey, for imaging. He faces sentencing on June 6.

The U.S. attorney’s news release said:

Agarwal is the 10th person to plead guilty in the government’s investigation into the scheme to pay cash to health care providers who referred patients to Orange Community MRI.

From early 2009 through December 2011, Dr. Agarwal admitted, Orange Community MRI paid him $100 in cash for each Medicare or Medicaid patient he referred for an MRI and $50 for each CT referral. He was one of 12 doctors and one nurse practitioner arrested on December 13, 2011, and charged with accepting cash kickbacks. Also arrested were Ashokkumar Babaria, MD, a radiologist who was Orange Community MRI’s medical director and owner, and Chirag Patel, the company’s former executive director. Dr. Babaria has agreed to forfeit as much as $2 million in revenue traceable to corrupt referrals and is scheduled to be sentenced March 21. Patel has agreed to forfeit $89,180 and is scheduled to be sentenced July 15.

Daisy Deguzman, MD, practicing in Newark, New Jersey, has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks and was sentenced January 31 to six months in prison and six months home confinement. Dov Rand, MD, practicing in West Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty and was sentenced February 13 to five months in prison and five months of home confinement.

We’ll keep following this case; see here and here for earlier reports. This is the current scorecard for others accused of accepting kickbacks:

  • Dinesh Patel, MD, practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced February 26.
  • Lucio Cardoso, MD, practicing in North Arlington, New Jersey, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced March 27.
  • Willia Lagrada, MD, practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced June 4.
  • Jose Castaneda, a nurse practitioner formerly practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced June 18.
  • Rameshcha Kania, MD, practicing in East Orange, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Maryam Jafari, MD, practicing in Newark, was tried, but the jury could not reach a verdict, and a mistrial was declared. A retrial is scheduled to start March 1.
  • Ash Khanna, MD, practicing in East Orange, has been indicted and is awaiting a trial date.
  • Chikezie Onyenso, MD, practicing in Irvington, New Jersey, has been indicted and is awaiting a trial date.

Related seminar: Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Imaging

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