Many couples aspire to have families and live long lives together in happiness. They plan trips, dinners and other special celebrations to commemorate their union. Other couples join forces in bilking our nation’s health insurance programs out of millions of dollars. In the case of 50 year-old cardiologist, Aiman Hamdan and his 39 year-old wife, Kristina, the latter was their preferred choice.
As reported by the District of New Jersey branch of the United States Department of Justice last week, the Hamdans pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in a test-referral bribe scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS) of Parsippany, New Jersey.
As the report details, in September of 2008, Aiman Hamdan received a half million dollar loan from BLS in exchange for his agreement to refer patient blood samples to them. Over the course of the next two months, Hamdan referred upwards of $53,000 of blood samples to BLS. This resulted in the clinical lab being paid that amount by Medicare and other private insurance companies.
Hamdan’s wife, Kristina also got in on the action. While working as a sales employee for BLS from November 2009 to April 2013, she agreed to pay doctors illegal bribes in exchange for their agreements to refer patient blood samples to the lab. The report actually details one specific example.
“Kristina Hamdan 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,” it reveals, “The bribes were funded by BLS and, in an effort to obscure the source and nature of the payments, paid to the doctors by Kristina Hamdan through a sham entity that also paid the Hamdans’ household and personal expenses.”
As a result of their fraudulent activities, the Hamdans now face prison time. They are each looking at potential maximum sentences of five years each. The report also notes that each Hamdan also faces a maximum $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss from the offence. As well, the couple has agreed to forfeit and pay back $15,000 and $1.2 million in criminal proceeds, respectively.
In perhaps an ironic twist, the married couple is due to be sentenced on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Zibdie, who pleaded guilty back in June, is also awaiting sentencing. However, the investigation that led to the guilty pleas of the Hamdans and Zibdie resulted in more than just these three convictions. In fact, there were 53 convictions in total, 38 of them doctors.
Organizers of the bribery scheme have admitted that it involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and other private insurance companies. “It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case,” says the report, “The investigation has to date recovered more than $13 million through forfeiture.”
BLS, for the record, is no longer operational. In June of 2016, it pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
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