Trial starts for 79-year-old doctor charged in $200M health fraud scheme

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A 79-year-old doctor goes to trial in a health fraud case.

More than two dozen doctors have pleaded guilty in a $200 million healthcare fraud case, but a 79-year-old New Jersey doctor, who faces maximum penalties that would mean spending the rest of his life in prison, is going to trial.

Opening statements are scheduled today in federal court in the trial of Bernard Greenspan, D.O., a family practice doctor charged with accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals.

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Prosecutors say Greenspan is guilty of accepting $200,000 in illegal bribes as part of long-running scheme operated by the blood-testing company Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in New Jersey.

Greenspan’s attorney, Damian Conforti, told the Associated Press that the doctor’s transactions were legitimate and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught in the middle of the investigation.

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Prosecutors have received guilty pleas from 41 individuals, including 27 doctors. One physician who plead guilty, Juan Espindola, admitted to taking $1,500 a month in sham consulting fees in exchange for providing blood samples to the lab. Greenspan is the first to go to trial and will test the government’s evidence in the case, AP notes.

Greenspan was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on 10 counts charging him with accepting bribes in the case. The U.S. attorney’s office said the laboratory company bribed a network of doctors in exchange for referrals, often involving unnecessary tests, and defrauded Medicare out of tens of millions of dollars.

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The laboratory company president, David Nicoll, pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiracy and money laundering and is expected to testify against Greenspan, AP said. The company paid Greenspan an inflated rent for office space, paid for holiday office parties, and gave a job to an employee with whom the doctor was having a sexual relationship, according to the criminal complaint against him.