A 57-year-old Staten Island doctor pleaded not guilty on Jan. 4 Wednesday to bribery and fraud charges for his alleged role in what authorities have called one of the largest medical cash-for-referrals schemes ever prosecuted.
Thomas V. Savino remains free on bond as he awaits proceedings in his case. He is the latest person charged among dozens in a scheme involving a long-running referral scam in which employees of a Parsippany-based medical testing laboratory bribed doctors to send tests to the lab and order sometimes unnecessary testing to boost bills to Medicare and private insurers, according to court documents.
If convicted, Savino, who appeared Wednesday in a Newark courtroom, faces a maximum prison term of up to 20 years on the fraud charges alone, authorities said.
Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services President David Nicoll, of Mountain Lakes, his brother, senior employee Scott Nicoll, of Wayne, and employee Craig Nordman, of Whippany, pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges in 2013. They have not yet been sentenced.
The trio are among 41 who've pleaded guilty to charges so far; 27 of them are doctors.
Savino is accused of having taken at least $25,000 for generating $375,000 in lab business for BLS. Authorities say the now-defunct company paid out more than $4 million in bribes and took in $100 million in payments from Medicare and private insurers during the scheme, which began as early as 2006 and lasted until 2013.
Savino was indicted in December, a week after Ahmed El Soury, of Monmouth Junction, was indicted on similar charges. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman has previously said that the case is believed to include the "largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case."
Saddle Brook doctor Bernard Greenspan was indicted last year on charges he took $200,000 in bribes -- the tab for an office holiday party and a job for his girlfriend -- to send $3 million worth of blood tests to the lab.
Prosecutors allege that Greenspan and others charged took bribes in the form of monthly payments disguised as fake rental, consultant and service agreements. Greenspan is scheduled for trial on Jan. 31, according to court documents.
Authorities have recovered $12 million so far through forfeiture actions in the case.