NEW YORK – The US Department of Justice said Tuesday that a Georgia man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and receiving kickbacks as part of a fraudulent cancer genetic and COVID-19 testing scheme.
Erik Santos of Braselton, Georgia, pleaded guilty in a Newark, New Jersey, federal court to one count of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.
According to the US Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey, Santos operated a company that between September 2019 and March 2020 provided medical testing companies with Medicare patient leads and tests for medically unnecessary cancer genetic screening tests in exchange for kickbacks of between $1,000 and $1,500 for each test that resulted in a reimbursement from Medicare. Over the course of this scheme, Santos received kickbacks of approximately $33,250 dollars and sought to submit more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
In March 2020, Santos and his conspirators expanded their scheme to include COVID-19 tests and respiratory pathogen panels, receiving kickbacks for each COVID-19 test submitted to a laboratory, provided it was bundled with more expensive respiratory panel tests.
According to the DOJ, Santos used sham invoices and contracts to conceal these activities.
The count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud carries a maximum potential punishment of 10 years in prison. The count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. Both offenses are also punishable by a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.