Ghanshyam Bhambhani, a former Queens cardiologist, will pay a total of $2 million to settle civil claims that he paid kickbacks to other physicians for referrals of patients insured by Medicare, Medicaid and the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Under the terms of the settlement, Bhambhani will pay $1,370,294.50, in addition to which he will pay the State of New York $629,705.50, an Aug. 21, 2020, press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Norbert E. Vint, Deputy Inspector General Performing the Duties of the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM-OIG), announced the settlement.
An investigation by the Office, the FBI and OPM-OIG revealed that, from 2010 through 2017, Bhambhani paid other doctors compensation disguised as rent for patient referrals in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act. The investigation also revealed that Bhambhani falsified records to justify cardiac procedures. Bhambhani admitted engaging in this conduct and has agreed to cooperate with the Government, the press release said.
The agreement resolves a lawsuit originally brought by a whistleblower under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, captioned United States ex rel. FNU LNU LLC v. New York Cardiology P.C., et al., Civil No. 14-4581 (EDNY). The False Claims Act permits private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and to share in the recovery.
In 2018, Bhambhani surrendered his medical license after pleading guilty in the Eastern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to pay healthcare kickbacks, the press release said. He was sentenced to 34 months in prison, three years’ supervised release and ordered to pay $217,364.83 in criminal restitution and $1,080,000 in criminal forfeiture, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.