|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced today that an Egg Harbor Township neurologist was named in a four-count state grand jury indictment for accepting kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals, worth several thousand dollars, from six MRI facilities operated by a South Jersey medical imaging center services company.
Syed Jaffery, 54, of Egg Harbor Township, part-owner of Premier Neurology and Mask Realities corporation, was charged with second-degree health care claims fraud, second-degree commercial bribery, second-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity (money laundering) and third-degree running.
The indictment alleges that from 2010 to 2013, Jaffrey participated in a scheme by which he agreed to refer patients needing MRI and CT scans to Diagnostic Imaging Services of South Jersey in exchange for monetary kickbacks. Over the course of the scheme, Jaffrey allegedly accepted approximately $195,000. In an attempt to disguise the arrangement, the kickback checks were made payable to Jaffrey’s alleged shell company Mask Realities and purported to be for a rental space for billing services.
“By allegedly taking nearly $200,000 dollars in bribes, Dr. Jaffrey put his personal wealth ahead of his patients’ needs,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “As evidenced by this indictment, we are committed upon ensuring that a medical practitioner’s professional opinion is not for sale in New Jersey and that all medical advice is given with only a patient’s best interests in mind.”
“Bribery corrupts our medical and insurance market in two ways. First, the bribes bear on where a patient receives care, rather than legitimate factors such as the patient’s medical needs and convenience. Second, bribes increase the premiums paid by patients,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi. “To their patients, a doctor’s opinion is close to sacred, and should not be for sale.”
The charges announced today 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.
Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Chief Deputy Attorney General Peter Sepulveda and Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Anthony Correll coordinated the investigation with assistance from Detectives Jason Volpe and Yevgeny Gershman.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.