15th N.J. doctor convicted in MRI kickback scheme

A doctor from Morris County, N.J., has pleaded guilty to taking cash kickbacks from an Orange diagnostic testing facility in exchange for making referrals to the lab, reported the Newark-based Star-Ledger on Dec. 18.

Mahesh Patel, a 64 year-old internist from Florham Park, is the 15th person convicted in an investigation of the lab’s practices that began in December 2011 with the arrests of over a dozen medical practitioners. Patel pleaded guilty to soliciting and receiving more than $6,000 in exchange for making referrals to the lab, according to U.S. Attorney General Paul Fishman.

Patel admitted to taking cash payments from Orange Community MRI on a per-patient basis over two years, said authorities. He faces a maximum penalty of five years prison time and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or lost caused by the crime. Patel is scheduled for sentencing on April 8, 2014.

Twelve of the convicted healthcare providers have agreed to forfeit $360,510 in illegal cash from the scheme, according to The Star-Ledger. Ashokkumar Babaria, the 63 year-old former director of Orange County MRI, has agreed to forfeit his revenue from the operation, which investigators estimate is over $2 million.