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Indian Born American Radiologist Dr. Ashok Kumar Babaria in US held for Bribery

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WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Ashok Kumar Babaria, 64, an Indian American radiologist who owned and operated a diagnostic testing center in Orange, New Jersey, has been sentenced to 46 months in jail for an lengthy and wide-ranging cash-for-patients scheme with doctors who referred patients to him.

Babaria, of Moorestown, NJ, had pleaded guilty to charges two years ago in the case which saw many other Indian American physicians caught in the federal dragnet and charged with various degrees of offenses.

US District Judge Claire C Cecchi also sentenced Babaria to three years of supervised release, ordered him to forfeit over $2 million and fined him an additional $25,000.

Babaria had pleaded guilty earlier to one count of offering and paying doctors and other healthcare providers illegal cash kickbacks for patient referrals in violation of the federal healthcare anti-kickback statute.

According to documents filed in court, from 2008 through 2011, Babaria was the medical director and owner of Orange Community MRI LLC. The facility provided diagnostic testing services, such as MRIs, CAT Scans, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, and DEXA scans. During that time, Orange MRI made nearly $2 million in corrupt revenues from Medicare and Medicaid billings for tests performed on patients who were referred to Orange MRI by doctors who were paid cash kickbacks for those referrals.

Babaria negotiated, approved, and paid kickbacks to physicians for each diagnostic test referred and provided cash to his subordinates to pay those doctors kickbacks for their referrals. Babaria performed a variety of specific acts, including personally paying a physician kickbacks of $75 for each of the doctor’s MRI referrals to Orange MRI over two years.

Babaria admitted in court to several of these individual acts, including that in 2009, he approved a kickback arrangement in which Orange MRI would pay a specific doctor roughly $100 for each of his MRI referrals, and the doctor in turn agreed to refer as many as 20 MRIs to Orange MRI each month. Babaria admitted approving in 2009 a kickback arrangement in which would pay a specific doctor $75 for each of the physician’s MRI referrals and $25 for each of the physician’s ultrasound and DEXA scan referrals.

Barbaria was the owner and medical director of Orange Community MRI LLC (Orange MRI), a facility that provided diagnostic testing services, such as MRIs, CAT Scans, ultrasounds, echocardiograms and dual-emission X-ray scans, known as “DEXA Scans.”

Between 2008 and 2011, his company made nearly $2 million in corrupt revenues from Medicare and Medicaid for tests referred to Orange MRI by doctors who had been bribed, according to documents filed and statements made in court.

Barbaria negotiated, approved and paid the bribes and provided money for his subordinates to do the same.

Among the incidents Barbaria pleaded guilty to included paying one doctor about $100 for each of his MRI referrals nd another doctor $75 for each MRI referral and $25 for each ultrasound or DEXA scan referral.

Barbaria is one of 17 people who have been convicted as a result of this investigation.

Including Babaria, 15 people have pleaded guilty. Two doctors were convicted at trial: Chikenzie Onyenso, 55, of Randolph, on Oct. 15, 2013; and Maryam Jafari, 43, of Hoboken, on Feb. 4, 2014.

Additionally, 14 health care providers have agreed to forfeit a total of $370,960 in illegal kickbacks. Former Orange MRI executive director Chirag Patel, 38, of Warren, agreed to forfeit an additional $89,180 in corrupt gains.

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