Newark, NJ – A US cardiologist has pleaded guilty to referring patients for diagnostic tests in exchange for money . From 2009 to 2011, Dr Shashi Agarwal, 60, solicited and received more than $100 000 in kickbacks for referring patients for MRI and computed tomography (CT) scans in Orange, NJ.
According to the report in the Newark Star-Ledger, prosecutors say that Agarwal is the 10th person to plead guilty to receiving financial kickbacks for referring patients to Orange Community MRI. In October 2012, the former executive director of Orange Community MRI, Chirag Patel, 37, admitted paying bribes to physicians since 2008. The former owner and medical director, Dr Ashokkumar Barbaria, pleaded guilty to the same charges in September 2012.
The US Attorney said that Agarwal, who was in private practice in East Orange, NJ, was paid for each patient he referred for an MRI or CT scan. Agarwal told US District Judge Claire Cecchi in Newark federal court that he agreed to refer as many as 20 patients a month to Orange Community MRI. He was paid $100 cash for each Medicare and Medicaid patient he referred for an MRI and $50 for each CT-scan referral.
Agarwal was arrested on December 13, 2011 and charged with accepting bribes in violation of the federal healthcare antikickback statute. He was one of 12 physicians charged with referring patients to Orange Community MRI for money. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6, 2013 and could face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250 000. He has agreed to forfeit the $101 750 in bribe money, according to the US Attorney’s Office