Guttenberg doctor pleads guilty to role in elaborate bribery scheme

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A Guttenberg doctor, whose practice was in Union City, pleaded guilty – along with four others – to his role in an elaborate bribery scheme where the owner of medical imaging centers bribed doctors in exchange for scan referrals worth millions of dollars, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman announced. 

Simon Santos

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Dr. Simon B. Santos, 73, of Guttenberg, pleaded guilty to third-degree commercial bribery in Morris County Superior Court last month, officials said.

With the plea, Santos admitted that prior to April 2010, he received roughly $30,000 in cash bribes directly from Rehan Zuberi, 46, of Boonton – then the owner of Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates – in exchange for referrals to the business, authorities said.

Besides cash, Santos said he received airline and event tickets, as well as rent payments from Zuberi in a space that he didn’t use, according to court papers – which also noted that the illegal transactions typically took place in Santos’ Union City office, or Zuberi’s Hackensack office.

Meanwhile, Zuberi pleaded guilty to first-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity and second-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery before Morris County Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz on Monday.

Later in the day, Zuberi pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception before Bergen County Superior Court Judge James Guida.

That charge stemmed from a separate state Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor investigation that found that Zuberi had received reimbursements from insurers for repairs well in excess of what he had actually paid, thus receiving more than $100,000 in overpayments, according to court documents.

Additionally, Zuberi’s wife, Humara Paracha, 39, of Boonton, pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery.

The plea agreement calls for Zuberi to receive a 10-year state prison sentence with a four-year non-parole eligibility period and for Paracha to receive three years of probation.

The agreement also requires them to pay restitution in the amount of $1 million, and Zuberi will also face a lifetime ban from being a provider under the Medicaid program, or working in a Medicaid facility, and all other government health programs, officials said.

Jose Lopez, 52, of Passaic, and Felix Clarin, 45, of Florham Park, also pleaded guilty last month to charges similar to those Santos is facing – and were among the 15 arrested in June (along with Zuberi, his wife and Santos) as part of “Operation RayScam.”