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Doctor get prison term for accepting $1.8 million in bribes from medical lab company

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NEWARK, New Jersey — A New Jersey doctor is headed to prison for accepting $1.8 million in bribes from a medical lab company.

Federal prosecutors say Frank Santangelo received a 63-month sentence on Tuesday and will have to serve three years of supervised release once he's freed. The 45-year-old Boonton resident will also forfeit more than $1.8 million as part of his plea agreement.

Santangelo had pleaded guilty in July 2013 to violating the travel act, money laundering and failing to file tax returns. His medical offices were in Montville and Wayne.

Prosecutors say the bribes were part of a long-running scheme operated by Parsippany-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services. They say the company bribed doctors to refer patients and perform unnecessary tests, reaping millions of dollars.

Prosecutors say the lab was paid more than $6 million by Medicare and various insurance companies for the referrals it got from Santangelo.

Thirty-eight people — including 26 physicians — have pleaded guilty so far in connection with the bribery scheme. Its organizers have admitted the scheme involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to the company from Medicare and various private insurance companies.

The investigation has recovered more than $11.5 million so far through forfeiture.

Several people connected with the lab have pleaded guilty, including president and part-owner David Nicoll and his brother, Scott, a senior employee.

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