Prostitutes. Strip clubs. Cash. Luxury cars. Tickets to Kate Perry concerts. Private jet getaways. Dozens of doctors betrayed their oath of honest medicine by taking lavish bribes for blood samples in a $100-million insurance scandal run by David Nicoll. He masterminded the largest bribery scheme of doctors in U.S. history, all to steal insurance money in megadoses.

Nicoll knew nothing about running a blood lab, yet had a nose for insurance theft. He bought a struggling lab called Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in Parsippany, N.J. Nicoll quickly turned the lab into a money-churning emporium of insurance fraud.

Doctors bribed for blood tests

His gameplan was simple: Pay off doctors to send him their patients for bogus blood testing, then loot insurers with bogus claims. Nicoll did hundreds to tests a day. Patients often didn’t even need the tests. Health insurers and Medicare also were double-billed, or billed for fake tests. The lab’s biggest expense wasn’t equipment or staff. It was a high-end New York strip club, where Nicoll schmoozed many doctors on the take. Lap dancers, steaks and booze were on the menu. He plunked down more than $10,000 in just one evening for two physicians.

Nicoll lavished other perks on doctors. Monthly cash kickbacks were routine. Dr. Bernard Greenspan pocketed $200,000 of payoffs for sending insurer-paid blood tests. Another doctor got a $50,000 Audi S5 turbocharged coupe. Fishing anyone? Nicoll shuttled some physicians by private jet for deep-sea fishing off Key West.

Need an impossible ticket for the Super Bowl or Kate Perry concert? Nicoll pulled strings.

Nicoll lived it up as well. He flew private jets to Super Bowls. He built an $800,000 pool behind his home. It was shaped like Mickey Mouse, with a grotto and water slide. He bought a collection of rare old American muscle cars. He chartered jets for Caribbean vacations. Nicoll bought his girlfriend an expensive condominium in New York City — behind his wife’s back.

Girlfriend found clues on cellphone

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey pulled the alarm after noticing suspiciously large lab bills. Dr. Frank Santangelo unwittingly gave investigators another break. He took in $50,000 in bribes a month. His girlfriend found texts on his cellphone that exposed the entire scheme. She went to the police. Federal prosecutors convicted Nicoll, 38 doctors and his other ring members — 53 in all. Nicoll was hauled off to federal prison with a six-year sentence after a persistent effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.

“You were the center of this operation and you were at the core of this spider web that you wove,” U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler said. “You took a company that was making nothing and you made yourself a big fortune. And let’s not kid ourselves, it was for one reason: greed. You wanted the money.”

 

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