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US Justice Department, Laboratory CEO Settle Charges of Kickback Scheme for $1.1M

NEW YORK – The former CEO of a Washington testing laboratory will pay $1.1 million to settle a civil case with the US Department of Justice involving accusations of kickbacks.

The US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington announced on Monday that Jae Lee, the former CEO of Northwest Physicians Laboratory (NWPL), had agreed to pay $500,000 within 30 days of the settlement agreement, with additional payments yearly until the full payment is made.

Lee is accused of accepting payments from provider Sterling Healthcare Opco and testing lab MTL in exchange for referrals of Medicare and Tricare program beneficiaries from 2013 to 2015. According to the original indictment, NWPL received up to $100,00 a month in exchange for referring urine tests to be performed at MTL. MTL allegedly paid $450,000 to NWPL and billed the government for more than $2 million.

Because NWPL was a physician-owned lab, it could not test urine samples for patients covered by government health programs, the agency said. To disguise the kickback payments, NWPL, MTL, and Sterling described the fees as marketing service payments, although no marketing services were performed, the DOJ said.

There is also an ongoing criminal case, to which Lee has pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing in March. NWPL as an entity was sentenced in May and ordered to pay $8.1 million in restitution.

In July 2020, Sterling agreed to pay $12 million to settle the scheme. In 2018, the DOJ reached a $1.8 million settlement with MTL.