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Wayne Couple Admit Taking Blood-Test Referral Bribes

Aiman Hamdan
Aiman Hamdan Photo Credit: COURTESY: http://www.naamanj.com

WAYNE, N.J. -- A cardiologist from Wayne and his wife admitted their roles Wednesday in what federal authorities believe is the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.

Aiman Hamdan, 50, and Kristina Hamdan, 39, were caught in a massive takedown that’s produced 53 convictions – 38 of them doctors – for a scheme by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, its president and several associates to pay specialists and other physicians to send blood testing work their way.

Hamdan, who had offices in Paterson, admitted Wednesday that BLS gave him a $500,000 loan in September 1988 in exchange for his agreement to refer patient blood samples.

For the next month, he said, he sent $53,000 worth of blood sample work that BLS collected through Medicare and private insurance companies.

From November 2009 through April 2013, Kristina Hamdan, a former sales employee of the lab, “agreed with others to pay doctors illegal bribes in exchange for the doctors’ agreement to refer patient blood specimens to BLS,” Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said.

For example, he said, she 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.

“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,” the U.S. attorney said.

As part of their guilty pleas, Aiman, who had an office in Paterson, and Kristina Hamdan agreed to forfeit and pay back $15,000 and $1.2 million in criminal proceeds, respectively.

Aiman Hamdan, a two-time president of the National Arab American Medical Association’s (NAAMA) New Jersey Chapter, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark to accepting bribes in violation of the Federal Travel Act.

His wife pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback and federal travel acts by committing wire fraud and conspiring to launder money.

A judge scheduled sentencing for both on Feb. 14.

(Zibdie previously pleaded guilty on June 21 and awaits sentencing.)

Overall, the scheme involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies, Fitzpatrick said.

More than $13 million has been recovered through forfeiture, he said.

Representatives of BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty in June and was required to forfeit all of its assets.

Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; IRS–Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for the investigation.

Representing the government are Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph N. Minish, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, Charles Graybow, and Jacob T. Elberg, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward, acting chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.

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