New Jersey Doc Gets Two Years for Bribes

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — A Cedar Grove, N.J., doctor was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from Parsippany, N.J.,-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services (BLS) as part of a long-running scheme operated by the lab, its president, and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Dennis Aponte, 46, previously pleaded guilty to violating the Federal Travel Act. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler imposed Aponte’s sentence in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On April 9, 2013, federal agents arrested BLS president and part owner David Nicoll, 39, of Mountain Lakes, N.J.; Scott Nicoll, 32, of Wayne, N.J., a senior BLS employee and David Nicoll’s brother; and Craig Nordman, 34, of Whippany, N.J., a BLS employee and the CEO of Advantech Sales LLC — an entity used by BLS to make illegal payments. Authorities also arrested New Jersey physician Frank Santangelo, 43, of Boonton, N.J.

On June 10, 2013, David Nicoll, Scott Nicoll, Nordman, and four other associates of BLS pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Federal Travel Act and one count of money laundering. On July 24, 2013, Santangelo pleaded guilty to violating the Travel Act, money laundering and failing to file tax returns.

Aponte admitted that he and David Nicoll agreed that BLS would pay Aponte bribes to refer to BLS blood specimens from the patients of his West New York, N.J., medical practice. From October 2012 to March 2013, Nordman, acting at David Nicoll’s direction, paid Aponte approximately $3,000 per month in cash in return for blood specimens referred to BLS. The lab made more than $175,000 through testing on blood specimens referred by Aponte.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Aponte to one year of supervised release, fined him $50,000 and ordered forfeiture of $235,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Aaron T. Ford; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Tom O’Donnell; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to the sentencing.

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