TOTOWA, N.J. – Yet another doctor – this one out of Totowa – has been charged by a federal grand jury with taking bribes in exchange for lab test referrals in what’s believed to be the nation’s largest-ever bribery case of its kind.
Salvatore Conte, 52, took $130,000 from employees and associates of Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, bringing the lab $525,000 in business, an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Newark charges.
Monthly bribe payments came “in the form of sham rental, service agreement, and consultant payments,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
The wide-reaching investigation so far has produced 41 guilty pleas – 27 of them from doctors.
The case busted open in early 2013, when federal agents arrested BLS president and part owner, David Nicoll, of Mountain Lakes, along with Scott Nicoll of Wayne, a senior BLS employee and David Nicoll’s brother, and Craig Nordman, of Whippany, a BLS employee and the CEO of Advantech Sales LLC – an entity that Fishman said was used by BLS to make illegal payments.
Organizers have since admitted the scheme “involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies,” Fishman said.
Federal authorities have recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture.
That includes last June’s forfeiture by now-defunct BLS of all of its assets.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, IRS–Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, as well as inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with making the case.
Representing the government are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, and Jacob T. Elberg, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Barbara Ward, acting chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
Conte, who Fishman said will be arraigned at a future date, is charged in the indictment with conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Federal Travel Act, as well as wire fraud, among other offenses.