Newcomers to Shayna’s List often find it difficult to believe that the veterinary industry could have pockets (or worse) of deceptive, if not outright corrupt practices. Upon perusing some of the articles here, and digging a bit deeper, they usually begin to realize that there is something seriously amiss in a profession that enjoys a virtually unblemished reputation for honesty and compassion.
The medical profession enjoys a similar reputation, nowhere moreso than in regards to the doctors in one’s hometown.
But if one lives in New Jersey, they may have heard of a massive scam among doctors who were bribed to prescribe unnecessary bloodwork, for the benefit of Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC. Until this disclosure, one of the doctors was heralded for his many charitable and civic virtues.
According to Law360 (emphasis added):
A New Jersey doctor pled guilty on Wednesday to charges that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to refer patients to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC, part of a yearslong scam run by the lab and its president, according to prosecutors.
Dr. Glenn R. Leslie pled guilty to one count of criminal bribery before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler. Leslie admitted that from August 2010 to December 2011, BLS paid him $5,000 a month for his promise to refer patient blood specimens to the lab. The $85,000 in bribes generated about $380,000 for BLS from private patients and Medicare, according to prosecutors.
Leslie is the 21st participant who has pled guilty in BLS’ scheme bribing doctors for millions of dollars to send business to BLS, which took in more than $100 million from Medicare and private insurance companies, according to prosecutors. Including Leslie, 11 employees or associates of BLS and 10 physicians have pled guilty.
“Dr. Leslie is extremely remorseful for his conduct in accepting illegal referral fees in exchange for sending blood tests to the lab,” Leslie’s attorney, Michael J. Beatrice, told Law360, “His service to the community as a physician, as chamber of commerce president, as police physician and in other charitable endeavors has otherwise been exemplary.” [...]
Federal agents in April also arrested BLS owner David Nicoll, his brother Scott Nicoll, who was a senior BLS employee, and Craig Nordman, a BLS employee and the CEO of Advantech Sales LLC, an entity used by BLS to make illegal payments, in connection with the bribery scheme. They pled guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Federal Travel Act and one count of money laundering, according to authorities.
The Nicolls admitted to using shell entities to bribe doctors with cash or lease, service or consulting agreements. The goal was to drum up blood sample referrals for BLS and convince doctors to order unnecessary tests on those specimens, according to authorities. To sweeten the deal, some doctors received a fee per test to entice them to send more business to BLS, the defendants acknowledged.
David and Scott Nicoll respectively agreed to forfeit $50 million and $25 million.
NJ.com described how the owners of Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services got to live large as a result of the pathological fraud they were able to perpetrate, thanks to doctors’ complicity:
He dropped $154,000 at a gentlemen’s club and tooled around in Ferraris, Corvettes and private jets. He bought a $700,000 home for his “female companion” and nearly $400,000 worth of tickets to sporting events, authorities say.
That’s how David Nicoll, president and part-owner of Parsippany-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, allegedly spent some of the ill-gotten gains he received from bribing doctors to refer patients and prescribe unnecessary tests, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said this afternoon. [...]
“People depend on their doctors to make medical decisions about care based solely on medical need,” Fishman said during a press conference in Newark. “When doctors order extra tests or choose particular labs in exchange for cash, they abandon their obligation to their patients … No patients should have to worry that their doctors’ loyalty and judgement have been bought by a salesman trying to make a buck.”
Do you still think that the veterinary industry is somehow immune to these kinds of scams? If so, then you really need to rethink whether or not you are prepared to be an effective dog parent.
On a happier note (for the honest, and the taxpayer), David Nicoll’s prized collection of ultra-rare American muscle cars is going to be auctioned off on September 12, 2014, to help reimburse victims of the scam – including Medicare. One example: a Plymouth Road Runner Superbird 426 Hemi, with an estimated value of $150,000. Say buh-bye, Mr. Nicoll: