NEWARK, N.J. – Three doctors were each sentenced today to over two years in prison for taking bribes in connection with a long-running and elaborate test referral scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
George Roussis, 45, and Nicholas Roussis, 49, both of Staten Island, New York, were sentenced to 37 and 24 months in prison, respectively. Ricky J. Sayegh, 45, of Scarsdale, New York, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. All three defendants previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to separate informations charging them with accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act. Judge Chesler imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:
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George Roussis, a pediatrician, and his brother, Nicholas Roussis, an obstetrician-gynecologist, both with practices in Staten Island, accepted cash payments totaling approximately $175,000 from BLS employees and associates between October 2010 and April 2013. In addition, at the request of the Roussis brothers, BLS paid for strip club trips, including paying women to perform lap dances and engage in sex acts with George and Nicholas Roussis. In exchange, George and Nicholas Roussis referred their patients’ blood specimens to BLS, generating more than $1,450,000 and $250,000 of lab business for BLS, respectively.
Sayegh, an internal medicine doctor practicing in Yonkers, New York, accepted cash bribes in return for referring blood specimens to BLS. From February 2010 through April 2013, Sayegh received bribes totaling approximately $400,000 from BLS employees and associates. Sayegh’s referrals generated more than $1.4 million in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 50 convictions – 36 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. 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 $13 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Chesler sentenced each defendant to a year of supervised release. He also ordered that George Roussis, Nicholas Roussis, and Sayegh pay fines of $7,500, $5,000, and $10,000, respectively.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert with the ongoing investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish and Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward, Acting Chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office reorganized its health care fraud practice in 2010 and created a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since that time, the office has recovered more than $1.34 billion in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
George Roussis: Peter Bennett Esq., Red Bank, New Jersey
Nicholas Roussis: Joseph R. Corozzo Esq., New York, New York
Sayegh: Michael Bachner Esq., New York