By Ron Shinkman, Editor, Laboratory Industry Report
A Jersey City, NJ physician has become the latest person to plead guilty for his part in a kickback scheme involving Parsippany, NJ-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services.
Anthony DelPiano, M.D., admitted in federal court earlier this week that he had accepted $2,300 a month from Biodiagnostic in exchange for referring about $1.8 million worth of blood work business directly to the laboratory. He pled guilty to a single federal charge of accepting bribes.
DelPiano is the 35th person to plead guilty in the case, two-dozen of whom are physicians. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when his sentencing takes place on May 12. DelPiano was also ordered to forfeit more than $204,000, the amount he was paid for the referrals.
DelPiano is the second physician in less than a week to enter a guilty plea in connection with the case. Ralph Messo, M.D., pled guilty on Jan. 30 of a single count of accepting bribes – in his case, a $3,000 monthly payment. He also agreed to forfeit $82,500. He will also be sentenced on May 12.
Although most of those who have pled guilty to date have received lighter sentences in lieu of avoiding a trial, they are not getting off with a slap on the wrist. Charles Goldberg, M.D., one of the first physicians involved in the case to cut a deal when he pled guilty almost exactly a year ago, received a 16-month prison sentence and a $50,000 fine last month. Goldberg had admitted to receiving $58,000 in bribes, a sum he has agreed to forfeit.
The Biodiagnostic case began to make headlines in 2013, when federal prosecutors filed charges against three high-level lab employees and accused them of using a variety of subsidiaries to pay kickbacks to providers in exchange for referrals. Oftentimes, the agreements between the doctors and the subsidiaries were in the form of equipment or office leases. To date, more than $10.5 million has been forfeited from those who have been convicted.