‘Life destroyed’: A doctor warns about accepting money from drug and device manufacturers

Doctor pocketing cash
A doctor convicted of accepting a bribe now warns future physicians to never accept anything from drug and device manufacturer reps.

A New York doctor, who is now a convicted felon, is warning other doctors about the dangers of accepting bribes from drug and device representatives.

Michele Martinho, who faces the possibility of jail time and the loss of her medical license when she is sentenced, pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count of accepting a bribe. This week she spoke to a small audience at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, telling her story as a warning to future doctors, according to The Washington Post.

While she learned about medicine, Martinho said her training did not prepare her for the business of medicine.

Martinho was one of more than two dozen doctors who have pleaded guilty in a $200 million health fraud scheme operated by the now-defunct blood-testing company Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in New Jersey. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to the lab for blood tests and other screenings, the newspaper said.

She told students her life has been “destroyed,” and she advised them to never accept anything from drug, device and other representatives who parade through doctors’ offices and to consult an attorney who specializes in medical practice with any questions.

RELATED: New Jersey doctor, 79, faces jail after conviction in $200M fraud case

Martinho accepted $155,000, always in monthly envelopes full of cash, and acknowledged she knew she was evading tax laws when she took the money, the newspaper said. However, she says she did not understand that the referral itself was considered a kickback.

Now she speaks at healthcare and ethics institutions, but doesn’t know if her efforts at "restorative justice" will help at sentencing.