A federal jury in Newark on Oct. 26 convicted a Staten Island doctor on allegations he accepted kickbacks from a Parsippany blood-testing lab in exchange for referrals.
Dr. Thomas V. Savino, 58, of Staten Island, was found guilty on all 10 counts of an indictment charging him with conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud; three substantive violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute; three substantive violations of the Federal Travel Act; and three substantive acts of wire fraud, according to a release from acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
The government alleged that Savino was involved in a “long-running and elaborate scheme” operated by now-defunct Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, its president and numerous associates.
From July 2012 through April 2013, the government said, Savino received cash bribes totaling at least $25,000 from BLS employees and associates in return for referring his patients’ blood specimens to BLS. Savino’s referrals generated approximately $375,000 in lab business for BLS, prosecutors say.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 51 convictions—37 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, authorities said. 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, according to the release. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets, the government said.
The Anti-Kickback Statute and Federal Travel Act counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is set for Feb. 14, 2018.
Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Liu of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark represented the government.
Savino’s lead attorney, Eric Breslin of the Newark office of Duane Morris, was not immediately available for comment.
The New York State Department of Health did not immediately respond to requests regarding the status of Savino’s license to practice.