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COVID-19: Feds Charge Rockland Doctor, Wife With $1.3M Genetic Testing Scheme

COVID-19 hardly fazed a Rockland doctor who, with his wife, continued to collect bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering millions of dollars in genetic tests, a federal grand jury charged.
COVID-19 hardly fazed a Rockland doctor who, with his wife, continued to collect bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering millions of dollars in genetic tests, a federal grand jury charged. Photo Credit: National Cancer Institute (@nci) on Unsplash

COVID-19 hardly fazed a Rockland doctor who, with his wife, continued to collect bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering millions of dollars in genetic tests from his offices in Pennsylvania, a federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey charged.

Yitzchok “Barry” Kurtzer, age 61, and Robin Kurtzer, age 60, both of Monsey, collected monthly cash kickbacks and bribes ranging in exchange for “collecting DNA samples from Medicare patients and sending them for genetic tests to clinical laboratories in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” beginning in 2018, Acting US Attorney for New Jersey Rachael Honig said.

The payoffs ranged up to $5,000, she said in a release.

At one point, the couple "complained that they were not getting paid enough and negotiated for higher kickbacks and bribes," Honig said.

Yitzchok Kurtzer, who operated separate offices in the Scranton, PA, area that his wife helped manage, recruited employees for the scheme, according to the complaint.

After accepting one $5,000 kickback, she said, Yitzchok Kurtzer counted the money and said: “Perfect. Didn’t short me.”

Robin Kurtzer, meanwhile, was recorded admitting that Harris and Kennedy shouldn't have been “bribed” to do their work but also said had no trouble “giving them money” as long as they produced results, the complaint said.

At one point her husband told staffers to stop collecting genetic test swabs when he missed receiving a bribe or kickback, then increased the volume when these resumed, Honig said.

"Even as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic substantially reduced in-patient visits, the Kurtzers continued their scheme," the U.S. attorney said. "They went from receiving hand-delivered cash kickbacks and bribes to accepting payments by wire and through a cell phone money-transfer app."

In the end, she said, Medicare was billed more than $1.3 million.

An indictment returned this week in US District Court in Newark charges the Kurtzers with various counts for participating in a scheme to solicit and receive kickbacks and bribes in exchange for ordering genetic tests, Honig said.

Yitzchok Kurtzer is also charged with health care fraud related to the kickback scheme.

Honig credited special agents of the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation in Newark the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in Philadelphia. She also thanked the FBI Scranton Field Office and Philadelphia Division and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office for their assistance.

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