The Heart of the Matter

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44914384 - prescription form clipped to pad lying on table with stethoscope twisted in heart shape and blue doctor uniform closeup. medicine or pharmacy concept. empty medical form ready to be used

The human heart pumps blood throughout the body, supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissues while removing carbon dioxide and other waste. (It is central to all body operations and without it, we cannot live.) Fraud operations are similar. Today’s spotlight shines on a cardiologist and his wife who had offices in South Paterson, New Jersey and were at the heart of a Medicare fraud scam involving millions of dollars in bribes. Their illegal acts were central to the ruse that caused more than $100 million in Medicare payments to be paid to a now-defunct medical laboratory.

Over nearly four years, the cardiologist’s wife, who was a former salesperson for the Parsippany lab, gave bribes to her husband and other doctors to refer patient blood specimens to the lab. Her husband, the cardiologist, received bribes from the lab that funded a $500,000 loan and a trip to Florida on a private jet where he went fishing and visited strip clubs. (In just two months, the cardiologist referred about $53,000 in blood samples to the lab who paid for his extracurricular activities.)

The wife also paid bribes to multiple doctors through a sham entity. (She paid her household and personal expenses out of the same account that she created and controlled so the lab would not be suspected.) One doctor, an internist with a practice in Woodland Park, generated more than $900,000 in business for the lab and various private insurance companies in exchange for the bribes he received. (The internist received monthly bribe payments of approximately $80,000.)

The 50-year-old cardiologist from Wayne pleaded guilty to his part in the Medicare fraud scam. Court records show that he was sentenced to three years of probation. His 40-year-old wife was sentenced to 41 months in prison and must forfeit $1,209,890.36. (The prison sentences were light considering the cardiologist was facing five years and the wife, 25 years behind bars.)

As of May 2018, 53 individuals (38 were doctors) have been convicted of their involvement in the Medicare fraud scam that made a Parsippany medical lab millions of dollars. (Supposedly, the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.) The investigation has recovered more than $13 million through forfeiture to date. (What about the other $87 million? Perhaps the rest was accounted for when the medical laboratory pleaded guilty, closed its doors and forfeited all assets.) The heart of this destructive scam has effectively been stopped, taking 53 fraudsters out of circulation.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Paterson doctor, wife plead guilty in test-referral bribe scheme,” published by the Montana Standard on January 16, 2018.

The cardiologist with offices in South Paterson accused of taking bribes, trip, and loan in exchange for referring patients to a medical lab in Parsippany that made millions through a long running test-referral scheme pleaded guilty on Wednesday, according to acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.

Aiman Hamdan, 50, of Wayne, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act. His wife, Kristina Hamdan, 39, of Wayne, pleaded guilty to violating the federal anti-kickback statute and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.