Doctor from Monmouth Junction pleads guilty in test-referral scheme

NEWARK – An internal medicine doctor from South Brunswick has admitted to taking bribes in connection with a long-running and elaborate test referral scheme.

Ahmed El Soury, 44, of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and the honest services wire fraud statute while in front of District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court on April 18, according to a statement provided by the U.S. Attorney’s District of New Jersey office.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, El Soury admitted accepting cash bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens from his Staten Island, New York-based practice to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, according to the statement. From March 2011 through April 2013, El Soury received bribes totaling more than $66,000 from BLS employees and associates. El Soury’s referrals generated approximately $650,000 in lab business for BLS.

The investigation has resulted in 44 convictions – 30 of them doctors – in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies, according to the statement. It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.

The investigation has to date recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets, according to the statement.

The conspiracy charge to which El Soury pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. El Soury’s sentencing is scheduled for July 19.

El Soury is one of five physicians who have been indicted in connection with the BLS bribery scheme. Brett Ostrager – who was indicted Aug. 11, 2015, and pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2015 – was sentenced on June 8, 2016, to 37 months in prison. Salvatore Conte was indicted on Jan. 10, pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 and will be sentenced June 6. Bernard Greenspan was indicted on March 14, 2016, convicted at trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls on March 6, and will be sentenced on June 20. Thomas Savino was indicted on Dec. 20 and is pending trial before Chesler.