Man behind multi-million dollar kickback scheme pleads guilty

The ringleader of a multi-million dollar radiology kickback scheme has pleaded guilty to first-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity and second-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery.

Rehan “Ray” Zuberi and his wife, Humara Paracha, bribed physicians in exchange for referrals to the New Jersey-based medical imaging centers they owned and operated. They would pay the bribes in cash, gift cards and even lavish dinners, making several millions of dollars in profit in the process. The bribery can be traced back as far as 2008.

Zuberi will serve ten years in prison, and will not be eligible for parole for at least four years. He has, however, agreed to help prosecutors investigate other parties involved in the scheme for a possible reduced sentence. Zuberi is banned for life from all government health programs, including Medicaid.

For her role in the scandal, Paracha pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and will receive three years of probation. Together, Zuberi and Paracha must also pay a total of $1 million in restitution.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said after the guilty plea that Zuberi did himself no favors by taking kickbacks at such a high frequency.

“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.” Hoffman said in a statement.

Ronald Chillemi, acting insurance fraud prosecutor, explained that Zuberi’s kickback scheme affects the entire market.

“Bribery undermines the insurance market, causing business to flow to the wrong places, which inflates rates for everyone that pays premiums,” Chillemi said in a statement. “To their patients, a doctor’s opinion is sacred, and it should not be for sale.”

Last June, Zuberi, Paracha and several others were first arrested in the case, which is now being referred to as “Operation RayScam” by the local media.

In a case completely unrelated to Operation RayScam, Zuberi has also pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception for receiving more than $100,000 in overpayments.