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Cardiologist Pleads Guilty in Test-Referral Bribery Scheme with New Jersey Clinical Lab

NEW YORK (360Dx) – A cardiologist and his wife pleaded guilty today to being part of a test-referral bribe scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president, and numerous associates.

The US Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey said on Wednesday that Aiman Hamdan, 50, with a practice in Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to superseding information charging him with accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act.

His wife, Kristina Hamdan, 39, pleaded guilty to counts one and 13 of an indictment charging her with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act, the honest services wire fraud statute, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Attorney's Office said.

The US Attorney's office noted that according to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Aiman Hamdan was given a $500,000 loan by BLS in exchange for his agreement to refer patient blood samples to the lab in September 2008. From October 2008 through November 2008, he "caused approximately $53,000 of blood samples to be referred to BLS, resulting in the lab being paid that amount by Medicare and private insurance companies," the Attorney's Office said.

From November 2009 through April 2013, Kristina Hamdan, a former sales employee of the lab, agreed with others to pay doctors illegal bribes in exchange for the doctors’ agreement to refer patient blood specimens to BLS. For example, she bribed Yousef Zibdie, 53, of Wayne, an internal medicine doctor with a practice in Woodland Park, in exchange for generating more than $900,000 in lab business for BLS, the Attorney's Office said.

Aiman Hamdan faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on the Federal Travel Act charge. Kristina Hamdan faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on count one of the indictment and a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on count 13 of the indictment. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

As part of their guilty pleas, Aiman and Kristina Hamdan agreed to forfeit and pay back $15,000 and $1.2 million in criminal proceeds, respectively. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2018. Zibdie previously pleaded guilty on June 21, 2017 and awaits sentencing.

Earlier this month, a Staten Island, New York doctor was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in a test referral scheme also run by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services.

So far, the investigation has yielded 53 convictions — 38 of them doctors — in connection with the bribery scheme, the Attorney's Office said.

It noted that the scheme's organizers have admitted it "involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies."

The investigation has to date recovered more than $13 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets, the Attorney's Office said.