Couple pleads guilty to kickback scheme involving 10 imaging centers

Another husband-and-wife team pleaded guilty to orchestrating a kickback scheme in New Jersey by paying physicians thousands of dollars each month in exchange for patient referrals to one of their 10 medical imaging centers, according to a New Jersey Office of the Attorney General statement.

Rehan "Ray" Zuberi and Humera Paracha admitted to paying doctors $50 to $150 for each patient referral made to Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates (DIA). Over the last six years, the couple paid several million dollars to doctors, in some cases dolling out $2,000 a month to individual physicians, in exchange for referrals. Kickbacks often took the form of "cash, gift cards, lavish dinners and expensive vacations," according to the statement.

Seven physicians accused of taking kickbacks were arrested in October. Prosecutors claimed that the physicians made more than 20,000 referrals for unnecessary imaging. The investigation into DIA previously made news in September when patients had trouble accessing medical records because of the fraud investigation. 

"Zuberi built a company that made millions and whose business model was predicated on paying bribes and making misrepresentations to insurance companies," Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in the statement. "His criminal enterprise was noteworthy for the sheer volume of greedy transactions that left a long trail of evidence that led to this successful prosecution."

Zuberi is expected to receive a 10-year sentence and his wife will get three years of probation for serving as president of the company. Together they will also have to pay $1 million in restitution.

Magnetic resonance imaging use increased 350 percent between 1996 and 2010, leading some to believe it is a hotspot for potential fraud, waste and abuse, FierceHealthPayer: AntiFraud previously reported.

For more:
- here's the NJ Attorney General release