Insurance Fraud NEWS
Pakistani man in New Jersey bribery scheme could be deported
September 11, 2017, Jersey City, NJ
A Pakistani man sentenced last week for his role as the leader of a multimillion-dollar scheme that paid doctors up to $150 a pop to refer their patients to imaging centers he owned could be deported, The Record has learned.
Rehan "Ray" Zuberi, 48, who owned Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates and its centers in Hackensack, Englewood, Wayne, Jersey City and elsewhere, was sentenced last week to eight years in state prison. He received less than the standard 10 years because he provided evidence against 17 of the doctors and chiropractors he admitted bribing.
The state Attorney General's Office agreed to write a letter to immigration authorities recommending that Zuberi not be deported when it struck the plea deal that secured Zuberi's cooperation in June 2015.
But Zuberi never requested such a letter — and now he's lost his chance, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said.
"Zuberi did not request a letter during his time period of cooperation, and prerequisite conditions for any such letter have expired," said Lisa Coryell, the spokeswoman.
The possibility that Zuberi would avoid deportation, when President Donald Trump has decided to remove the protections of 800,000 "Dreamers," or undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, struck some as inconsistent.
"I ask you to be consistent in your policies and insist that this criminal be deported," Felix Roque wrote in a letter to Trump. Roque, the mayor of West New York, is a doctor who was acquitted by a jury after being charged with accepting bribes from Zuberi.
"To enact a policy [that] punishes law-abiding young immigrants who up to now have done everything that the law has asked them to do ... while at the same time rewarding criminals who have thumbed their nose at our criminal justice system is inconsistent, erratic and immoral," Roque wrote.
Zuberi has pleaded guilty — twice — to money-laundering charges stemming from major Medicaid fraud investigations, and been accused of cheating the taxpayer-funded program of millions of dollars. His first guilty pleas, in 1999, led to a six-year sentence for his role in a scam that billed Medicaid for blood tests that had not been ordered.
Under federal immigration law, "any alien who … is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable." In addition, an alien "convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct," is also deportable.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement service does not release a person's immigration status unless the person has signed a privacy waiver, a spokesman said Wednesday.
After Zuberi's 2014 arrest for his role in the imaging scheme, an immigration spokesman said at the time that he was being held at the immigration detention facility in Elizabeth. "He is in removal proceedings and has been scheduled for an immigration hearing before an immigration judge," the spokesman said at that time. "Zuberi is a convicted aggravated felon as a result of an April 30, 1999, theft offense."
The resolution of those proceedings could not be determined.
Last week, Morris County Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto gave Zuberi credit for 148 days' time served. Zuberi was led from the courtroom in handcuffs and was to begin his term immediately, his attorney said. He is required to serve two years and eight months before becoming eligible for parole.
Sentencing for a separate insurance fraud case, involving inflated bills for repairs to medical equipment, was originally scheduled for Friday in Bergen County Superior Court and was postponed until Sept. 29.
Zuberi's attorney, Alan L. Zegas, said he planned to appeal both the sentence and the judge's denial of Zuberi's request to withdraw his guilty plea.