A Pennsylvania-based doctor, Yitzchok “Barry” Kurtzer, and his wife, Robin Kurtzer, have pleaded guilty to participating in a sophisticated kickback and bribery scheme linked to genetic testing, as announced by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
In a recent development that has sent ripples through the healthcare industry, Dr. Yitzchok “Barry” Kurtzer, 63, and his wife Robin, 62, of Monsey, New York, have confessed to conspiracy charges related to violating the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Their guilty pleas were entered before U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi in Trenton, shedding light on a disturbing trend of corruption within medical practices.
This case, which unfolded in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, involved the Kurtzers soliciting and receiving bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering expensive genetic tests. Their scheme, initiated in 2018, primarily targeted Medicare patients and involved clinical laboratories in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The couple exploited their positions, with Barry Kurtzer utilizing his role as a primary care physician and Robin Kurtzer managing their medical offices, to facilitate this illegal operation.
The investigation revealed that the Kurtzers, along with their employees Amber Harris and Shanelyn Kennedy, collected DNA samples from patients and sent these to specific laboratories for genetic testing, receiving payments up to $5,000 per referral. This practice not only breached ethical standards but also led to over $1.3 million in fraudulent bills to Medicare.
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger emphasized the gravity of such actions, stating, "Patients trust their doctors to make decisions in their best interests, uncorrupted by financial incentives. This case demonstrates our commitment to holding those accountable who violate this trust and the law." Additionally, key statements from FBI and IRS officials underscored the wider implications of such schemes on public trust and healthcare costs.
Both Yitzchok and Robin Kurtzer face a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison and substantial fines, with their sentencing scheduled for March 28, 2024. This case stands as a stark reminder of the importance of integrity in the healthcare sector and the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to combat fraud and corruption.
The investigation was a collaborative effort led by the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, highlighting the seriousness with which such crimes are pursued.