Two chiropractors, including one from Chester Township, pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving kickbacks for referrals and failing to report income with a combined total of more than $1 million, according to a release from New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.
Fernando Barrese, 40, of Washington Township (Bergen County), and Christopher J. Montana, 40, of Chester, each pleaded guilty to the crimes relating to their business as chiropractors. They own Chiropractic Centre of Elizabeth, Chiropractic Centre of Newark and Chiropractic Centre of Jersey City. Barrese also owns Wallington Chiropractic Center.
According to Chiesa, the men referred about 100 patients who had been in car accidents for additional services in exchange for illegal kickbacks of $500 cash for each patient.
“Kickbacks are a bane of the auto insurance market,” Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi said in the press release. “Money is a strong incentive that influences doctors to refer their patients for testing, treatment or other services. All of these services are paid for with other people’s insurance premiums. Doctors should base their medical decisions on their patients’ needs, not their own pocketbooks.”
Barrese also admitted to failing to report $918,826 in income on his taxes in 2009. Montana admitted to failing to report $291,000 in 2008.
Barrese and Montana were arrested and charged with the crimes in July of last year. Oleg Gorodesky, 42, of Staten Island and Alcindor Robin, 57, of Elizabeth were also arrested and charged with related crimes. Those charges are still pending.
Barrese and Montana are scheduled to be sentenced December 19. The state is expected to recommend seven years in prison for each man. They will also likely pay $200,000 in restitution to 15 insurance companies and back taxes and interest totalling $240,451 for Barrese and $71,032 for Montana to the state. Their chiropractic licenses will also each be suspended for 18 months.