|TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Passaic County chiropractor has been charged with accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks from a medical imaging center in return for referring patients to that facility.
Dr. Ronald P. D’Amato, 43, who owns Atlas Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center in Clifton, was charged with conspiracy, commercial bribery, and running for allegedly accepting money to refer his patients to a medical imaging facility owned by an individual who previously pleaded guilty in a statewide healthcare-related bribery conspiracy involving dozens of doctors, lawyers, and medical facility operators.
D’Amato is the latest medical professional charged in connection with an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Commercial Bribery Task Force (CBTF), which was formed in January 2016 to target commercial bribery in the healthcare industry. The task force includes deputy attorneys general and detectives from the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
“Our commercial bribery task force is working tirelessly to identify and prosecute every crooked professional responsible for spreading the stain of corruption across New Jersey’s healthcare system,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Our investigation will continue unabated until we have rooted out everyone who has a dirty hand in this criminal conspiracy to exploit patients for financial gain.”
“These kickback schemes involving medical professionals harm individual patients, who may be misdiagnosed or receive unnecessary treatments, and they raise costs for all healthcare consumers,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone who suspects this type of corrupt activity in the healthcare industry to contact our task force confidentially at 866-TIPS-4CJ.”
“There is no room in the healthcare industry for practitioners willing to sell their patients to the highest bidder,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “Our office is committed to ensuring that the participants in this kickback scheme are held accountable for compromising patient care and corrupting the insurance system to illegally enrich themselves.”
D’Amato is accused of accused of accepting more than $90,000 in bribes from Tariq Din, 49, of Paramus, who owns Clifton Imaging Center, previously known as Open MRI of Clifton.
Last fall Din pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of conspiracy, money laundering, commercial bribery, and misconduct of a corporate official for paying more than $850,000 combined to more than 15 physicians and other professionals in exchange for referrals to their MRI facilities.
Din pleaded guilty to charges resulting from the Commercial Bribery Task Force’s ongoing investigation into doctors who allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks in return for providing patient referrals worth millions of dollars to other doctors and medical service providers. This investigation stems from two earlier investigations:
- An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau that led to guilty pleas last year from Dr. Manoj Patharkar and his associate Mohammed Shamshair on charges that they hid and laundered approximately $3.6 million in income from the doctor’s pain management clinics to evade taxes, and
- “Operation Rayscam,” an investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor that led to guilty pleas in May 2015 from Rehan Zuberi, his wife and three other defendants in connection with commercial bribes that Zuberi paid to doctors in return for the referral of patients to his medical imaging centers.
In an indictment handed up by a state grand jury on June 8, D'Amato was charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree commercial bribery, and third-degree running.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorney General Colin Keiffer, of the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, presented the case to the grand jury.
Commercial Bribery Task force members Lt. Anthony Butler, Lt. Lisa Shea, Detective Wendy Berg, Detective John Campanella, Detective Grace Rocca, Detective Kimberly Allen, Detective John Neggia, Analyst Bethany Schussler, Analyst Rita Gillis, and Analyst Kelley Celenza are conducting and coordinating the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Michael Monahan and Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa, and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. Additional assistance was provided by Supervising Criminal Forensic Auditor Debra Lewaine and Criminal Forensic Auditor Michael Birnie both of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Criminal Investigation.
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