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Story of $150M lab scam in New Jersey reads like Sopranos

December 05, 2017, Newark, NJ — Earlier this year, a New Jersey man who built a $150 million business from nothing took the witness stand in a government prosecution.

In three startling days of testimony, he explained how his company won business in an already-competitive industry.

The bribes included high-end cars and impossible-to-get concert tickets.

The private jets took clients to Super Bowls and Caribbean islands.

And, of course, there were strippers.

By the end of those three days, David Nicoll had described something that sounded like a lost episode of The Sopranos. But Nicoll wasn't hauling garbage or running a gambling operation.

He was lining up for the right to test your blood.

And in the eyes of Nicoll, a former nurse and the brains behind Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, there was only one way to do that -- pay off physicians, any way he could.

"Could you have run a lab without bribing doctors?" he was asked.

"No," Nicoll replied.

The brazen case of medical fraud so far has led to 51 convictions, including 38 doctors, and is not done yet, 10 months after Nicoll's testimony in a federal courthouse in Newark.

More than a dozen people await sentencing, including Nicoll himself, in what is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a federal bribery case.

But the inside story of the massive New Jersey medical scandal-- told here for the first time and pieced together from never-before-seen confidential records and text messages obtained after attorneys for NJ Advance Media went to court seeking their release -- paints a picture of an even wider-reaching scheme, involving many more doctors than were ever charged, and far greater excesses than had been disclosed.

While nearly 40 physicians were ultimately charged, Nicoll testified he actually paid off more than 100 to keep blood flowing to his lab.

He claimed to have provided prostitutes to at least five physicians in exchange for blood work orders and bought one doctor an Audi S5, a high-end turbocharged coupe that lists for more than $50,000. Three other doctors who agreed to send blood to Biodiagnostics were flown to Key West on a private jet to go deep-sea fishing.

Some doctors, after confronted by federal agents about the blood testing scheme, cooperated with the government, with at least one agreeing to secretly record conversations that implicated others.

The government said the scheme brought in $100 million, but that was a conservative estimate by Nicoll's own reckoning. He believed Biodiagnostic Lab took in more than $150 million in billed payments from Medicare and private insurance over eight years.

"I mean, I don't know for sure," he testified.

It was also a family affair.

Not only were Nicoll and his brother, Scott, charged in the case, so were others. The brother of David Nicoll's wife was charged and pleaded guilty. A cousin of Nicoll working as a salesman for Biodiagnostic also was charged and admitted guilt. So did the husband of another cousin.

In a steady stream of court hearings in federal court over the past four years, doctors across the metropolitan area have acknowledged accepting payoffs large and small to send blood specimens to the lab, which prosecutors said fraudulently billed Medicare and various private insurance companies for sometimes unnecessary or unordered test procedures.

Bribes were handed out like business cards.

Biodiagnostic not only devised fake office lease payments and bogus consulting agreements with doctors, but paid off others with prostitutes, private jet getaways across the country and hard-to-get concert tickets. Tickets for a Katy Perry concert? No problem. A charter flight to the Super Bowl? They had it covered. Monthly kickbacks were routine.

The lab's biggest monthly expense?

According to Nicoll, it was an exclusive New York strip club, where he dropped more than $10,000 one night to entertain two New York physicians--including a pediatrician who had bragged about how many blood tests he had ordered on young patients.

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who first green-lighted a case he called "troubling and dangerous," never thought there would be so many doctors involved.

"I still wonder whether we found them all," he said.

David Nicoll, through his attorney, John Whipple of Morristown, declined to be interviewed for this story. He has not been deposed in ongoing civil cases against him. But he was far more forthcoming during his three days of testimony in February, as a key witness against Dr. Bernard Greenspan, one of only two of the many physicians caught up in the Biodiagnostic scandal who opted to go to trial.

Unapologetic at trial, the plan, explained Nicoll, had been simple from the start. There was no "unanalyzed blood" to be tested. There were a lot of other clinical labs, and there wasn't any new business out there to capture.

"We would be taking blood from other competitors," he said. "We were going to do whatever we needed to do to get the blood to the lab."

They paid bribes to Bret Ostrager, a Long Island physician who was getting $3,300 a month to send his patients' blood to Biodiagnostic Laboratory and admitted soliciting tickets for a Justin Bieber concert at Madison Square Garden, said federal prosecutors.

Greenspan, according to Nicoll, sent the lab $3 million worth of business, in return, the lab paid him $200,000 and also agreed to hire the girlfriend of the married 79-year-old doctor with whom he was having a romantic relationship.

And then there was Frank Santangelo, who was getting paid $50,000 a month by Biodiagnostic to refer his patients to the lab for blood testing. It apparently wasn't enough when he fell in love with a sleek BMW that came with a $100,000 price tag and texted Nicoll seeking more money, documents released by the U.S. Attorney's office showed.

That text and other incriminating texts would prove to be his undoing.

Santangelo gave his girlfriend his old phone before breaking up with her, according to the court filings obtained by NJ Advance Media. Not long afterward, she discovered the texts still on the phone, laying out the whole bribes-for-blood scheme and gave it to police.

Living large

Nicoll liked to spend money.

In his testimony, he recalled trips to four Super Bowls. He never got there flying coach. A chartered jet took him with friends and family to see the Steelers beat the Seahawks for Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Two Roman numerals later, he chartered another jet out of Morristown to cheer the Giants over the Patriots for Super Bowl XLII in Arizona, and again to the big games in Tampa and Texas.

He built a pool in the back of his suburban Morris Plains home. But not just any swimming pool.

"It was shaped like Mickey Mouse and it had a grotto like a cave and a water slide," Nicoll recalled in his court testimony. He wasn't kidding. From Google Maps, an aerial view of his former backyard, replete with a big circular pool and matching mouse ears, looks like an attraction at Walt Disney World. He said it cost $800,000.

Then there was his garage.

To Chevy muscle car enthusiasts, the name of Don Yenko is legendary. The late Pennsylvania race driver was known for dropping large-block, high performance engines into stock Camaros, Chevelles and Novas. They were raw speed machines and are so rare and sought after by collectors today that some sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars--when you can find one.

Nicoll owned three of them.

Born in Teaneck, Nicoll grew up in the blue-collar town of North Bergen. He was a smart kid; brilliant say some who knew him. He attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., where he earned a Bachelor in Science in biology and in mathematics and then went on to Seton Hall University, where he received a second bachelor's degree in science--this one in nursing.

After graduation, he worked for a home health care association.

Nicoll said he later worked at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. Hospital officials have no record of him being on staff, although he could have been a per diem agency nurse. Whatever his status, he wasn't there long. By 2000, he said he left nursing to take a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The work of a pharma rep involves frequent face-to-face calls on physicians to provide them with the details of a drug, such as scientific literature, benefits and side effects.

At the same time, it's no secret that the pharmaceutical industry has long had a culture of using a wide variety of incentives to doctors to cultivate sales. There are speaking fees and conferences, reimbursement for travel, dinners and consulting contracts. By law, those payments now must be made public and last year pharmaceutical and medical device companies funneled $69 million to New Jersey doctors, records show.

Nicoll had far more modest resources. His responsibility as a sales rep was to promote a top cholesterol-lowering statin, a medication for diabetes, and various cardiac drugs, he said. Given an expense account, he was expected to buy lunches for doctors and their office staffs. The goal, he explained, was to build personal connections.

There were barbecues and dinners. He had a regular game of racquetball with a family practitioner then in his 60's who had 30 years on Nicoll, but somehow almost never lost a game to the much younger salesman.

Perpetually unkempt, Nicoll could be charismatic and charming.

"Doctors loved him," said a former friend. Yet there was a darker side, where he could just as easily turn "vicious and nasty," said the friend.

Following the birth of his son, Nicoll left Bristol-Myers Squibb to join a small specialized lab in North Carolina then marketing a new test for heart risk. According to Nicoll, doctors who ordered the test were offered an incentive--a $20 patient's specimen drawing and handling fee. That became an issue after he learned Medicare patients were not covered for the blood work.

"I was paid based on volume," Nicoll explained in court during the trial of Bernard Greenspan. And without the incentive, some physicians stopped ordering the test.

Nicoll figured out a way to game the system. He testified that he paid the Saddle Brook doctor out of his own pocket, and simply put in more mileage on his company expense account to cover what he was paying Greenspan. At 32 cents per mile, it was a long drive to make up the difference.

Blood money

By 2005, Nicoll was again looking for a change after learning that the owner of a struggling clinical testing lab in East Orange was facing serious financial issues and was seeking a buyer. Nicoll had no experience running a lab. The extent of his knowledge was not much more than a brief trip to the North Carolina lab for training.

"I saw the lab. But, I was there for maybe a week," he shrugged.

Still, he was keen on the idea.

Nicoll said he convinced his wealthy father-in-law to lend him $1 million for a 20 percent stake in the business. He got his younger brother, Scott, a ticket broker who dealt in high-demand sports and concert tickets and sold them on the secondary markets, to join him as a salesman.

And there were five doctors he already had relationships with from his time as a drug rep who he said had agreed to use the blood lab if Nicoll would pay them rent for office space where the lab could station a phlebotomist to draw blood--a practice then legal.

In New Jersey, a clinical lab was permitted to rent space from a physician at "market rates" to provide blood drawing services for patients. It was a gray area. The lab could pay for space, but it couldn't specifically rent space in exchange for blood without being in violation of the federal anti-kickback statute.

The anti-kickback law is pretty straightforward, noted David M. Frankford, an expert in bioethics and health care law and a professor at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research. The statute prohibits paying for patients, to ensure that clinical decision-making is free from corruption. There could be no quid pro quo. Period.

"The guts of the fraud laws are no remuneration for referral," said Frankford.

Robert Michel, editor-in-chief of The Dark Report, a newsletter that closely follows the medical and clinical lab industry, said because it's simple to send out blood samples, some lab operators have come up with creative ways to lure physicians.

"If you are being paid on the basis of the number of tests, you have created the inducement to order more tests," Michel said.

Biodiagnostic's offer to rent space in doctors' offices was not unique to the blood lab. Nicoll said the five doctors he approached had agreements with other labs.

Although there was a clause in the lease that stated any payment was not being made with the expectation of blood, he left no doubt that it was only a legal subterfuge to make it appear all legitimate. Nicoll said he wouldn't have paid the physicians rent unless the lab was getting something in exchange.

There were other incentives as well.

"We paid for, you know, tickets to sporting events, dinners, stuff like that," he said.

"Did you provide cash?" he was asked in court.

"Not at that time."

"Prostitutes?"

"Just with one physician I remember."

Changing the rules

Biodiagnostic, unlike well-established clinical labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, had no contractual relationships with most of the health insurance carriers. Nicoll, however, learned he could still make money out of network by using the right diagnostic codes--and even more by inflating his prices.

There was no suggestion that Biodiagnostics was not properly testing blood or performing substandard analysis. The fraud was on the insurance companies that reimbursed Nicoll, according to prosecutors. But while no patients were harmed in the scheme, doctors were pushed to order more blood tests if they wanted to keep getting paid.

"I have been telling mds n off(ice) managers daily and that I will get the whip out! Told them again today that they HAVE to be very aggressive!" Santangelo texted Nicoll when the lab owner complained about the lack of blood tests being ordered and, in particular, the absence of lipos and allergy tests, which were particularly remunerative blood tests for Biodiagnostic, according to the documents examined by NJ Advance Media.

A pediatrician texted to proclaim he was "the number one prescriber" for one particularly lucrative allergy test on his young patients.

On average, Biodiagnostic was conducting 450 blood tests per day. Sometimes as much as 600, according to Scott Nicoll, who was also called to testify in trials earlier this year.

"We usually made about $1 million a month," Nicoll said.

That was your gross profit? A million a month, Scott Nicoll was asked.

"About," he said. "Yeah."

They were raking in so much money, in fact, that the blood lab's billing soon raised alarms at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The company declined to comment on the case. However, Megan McCarthy, a lead investigator for Horizon who was then manager of its special investigations unit, was a witness during the trial of Greenspan and related the complaints the company had started getting about Biodiagnostic two years after the lab had been taken over by David Nicoll.

She testified the bills were excessive for what they were doing. "They were billing for a lot of tests. I noticed for one date there might have been 25 blood tests billed on one day," McCarthy said.

Horizon went to court. In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in 2009, the health giant sought an injunction and damages, while seeking to recover more than $14 million it had paid out. Biodiagnostic was accused of "massive fraud," including misrepresenting its actual charges, double-billing, paying medical practices for referrals, and offering to waive patients of responsibility for any deductibles.

How the fraud worked:

Santangelo, the doctor seeking a new BMW who had been billing a great many tests through Biodiagnostic, was specifically named in the lawsuit, along with dozens of unknown "John Doe" physicians.

Also made part of the litigation were Nicoll's father-in-law and Susan Nicolls, his wife, over their partial ownership stake of the lab. Attorneys for both declined comment.

The litigation sent shockwaves through the company and the doctors in its network. In a frantic text to Nicoll, Santangelo reached out to Nicoll to warn him that Horizon was at his office, according to court filings.

"U need to call me bcbs in here!" Santangelo texted, referring to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

"Tell them to [expletive] off. We aren't doing anything wrong," Nicoll replied. "Tell them to make an appointment to see you!"

"They wanted your fee schedule patients complaining Your fees outrageous. They asked me if u pay rent," Santangelo said.

Nicoll opted reluctantly to settle the case. "We wrote off $14.2 million in claims that we had outstanding with Horizon. And we also paid them an additional $3 million," he later testified.

Despite the settlement, though, there was growing pressure on Biodiagnostic. In 2010, New Jersey abruptly banned the practice of renting office space from doctors by clinical labs--a blow that Nicoll feared even more than the Horizon lawsuit. He said he was convinced he would be unable to do business without some kind of incentive to physicians.

"We weren't able to pay doctors to send us blood anymore," he said.

A new game

The new rules left him with few options. But if Nicoll couldn't pay doctors outright, there was way to pay them under the table through a scheme no more legal than rent payments. Nicoll directed members of his sales team to form several limited liability companies to pay doctors as "consultants." It was another scam.

"They were just a vehicle for us to pay the physicians. They didn't really do anything. There was only one source of financing from the lab and they basically were set up to pay consultant fees to the physicians," Nicoll said during his testimony.

Nicoll's first cousin, Craig Nordman, a former security alarm installer with no medical training, was behind Advantech, one of the shell companies.

According to Nicoll, Advantech wasn't real. It was just a device with no obvious connection to Biodiagnostic, which would allow him to pay his doctors the same bribes they were getting before the rent payments were disallowed. The lab would pay the LLCs, which in turn would pay off the doctors in consulting fees.

Nordman, who admitted he had bribed 14 physicians, said he would also set up Christmas parties for medical practices.

"Most of the things that I did was to continue to keep the relationship, or to continue the blood flowing into the lab," he explained in his own testimony about his role in the scheme.

He recalled paying for a $1,994 Christmas party for Greenspan and his staff at the Capital Grille in Paramus. It was a relatively cheap investment for the return on blood that would be delivered to Biodiagnostic.

"The amount of money that we would spend on the Christmas party wouldn't come close to the amount of money that we would make," he said.

How much money? According to Nordman, the lab made $1,000 for an in-depth cholesterol screening known as an NMR cardio profile.

As Nicoll continued ramping up his operation, some of his doctors began asking for more and more, according to court records. In previously confidential sentencing memoranda that attorneys for NJ Advance Media petitioned to get released, federal prosecutors outlined some of the demands.

A federal sentencing memo, which is not routinely made public in New Jersey, outlines the facts of a case as well as the involvement and history of a criminal defendant in recommendations by the defense and prosecution to a judge prior to sentencing.

Prosecutors said Santangelo by then was receiving $50,000 a month and asked for an $87,000 loan to help pay for a $100,000 BMW he coveted.

"I have budgeted to pay... 50,000+ a month that is the max I can go," Nicoll texted.

"You know my situation," replied the doctor.

Nicoll was incredulous. "Giving you 50,000 is not enough? Are you serious?"

For others, there were dinners at what has been called the best steakhouse in New York, nestled somewhat incongruously inside one of the city's most exclusive strip clubs on the far West Side in Manhattan. It was a place where filet mignon, aged porterhouse and expensive scotch on the balcony above compete for attention with lap dancers and topless young women gyrating on the stage, down a red carpeted stairway below.

Brothers Nicholas and George Roussis, who had Staten Island medical practices and had gone to school together, were among those he hosted there. They were not shy about their enthusiasm for the outings.

"Yo Yo Yo. Whats going on brothers r we having steak on Thursday or what Got to celebrate our anniversary bitches. HaHa" texted Nicholas Roussis, a 48-year-old obstetrician, to Scott Nicoll just days before one get-together in October 2011, according to the sentencing memoranda obtained by NJ Advance Media. It turned out to be a $14,000 evening, said prosecutors. Neither doctor picked up the tab.

It was not the only dinner they had there, and the steak was just part of the payoff. Nicoll arranged for sex acts as well, according to court filings.

George Roussis, a pediatrician, bragged to Scott Nicoll in another text that he was the number one prescriber for ImmunoCap, a costly allergy test.

"Something like 250 panels a month," he texted.

Bret Ostrager, a family practice physician on Long Island, was not only getting paid $3,300 a month, but was also given tickets to take his son to his first New York Mets baseball game. Scott Nicoll also supplied him with tickets for Katy Perry, and five tickets purchased for $1,875 to see Justin Bieber at Madison Square Garden.

Scott Nicoll through his attorney, Timothy M. Donohue of West Orange, declined comment.

All this time, David Nicoll was spending tens of thousands on himself as well. There were more cars, which he kept in a hanger-like warehouse, said a former associate. And more trips, once again mostly on chartered jets, often to the Caribbean. The Turks and Caicos. The Bahamas, St. Barts, Antigua, St. Martin, and St. Thomas.

"Pretty much all of them," he said.

He also purchased a $670,000 condo on 42nd Street in midtown New York for "a girl I was with at the time," he said almost offhandedly, before being pressed for further explanation.

"You mean as a girlfriend?" he was asked.

"Well, it started off more as a paid for services and then it developed into where I paid her monthly to be my girlfriend, I guess," he replied.

Not long after that, he separated from his wife. And bought himself a $1.5 million house in Mountain Lakes.

The Feds move in

While Nicoll might have thought his settlement of the lawsuit brought by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield had ended the matter, the case actually was only the beginning of his problems.

According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, Megan McCarthy's report eventually made its way into the hands of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office, kicking off a four-year investigation that would involve four federal investigative agencies, including the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS, as well as more than a dozen agents, and several assistant U.S. attorneys who began to review of thousands of financial records.

Several doctors received visits from federal agents within months of the Horizon lawsuit, and a number of Biodiagnostic salespeople--even several doctors--began talking, and ultimately agreed to secretly cooperate with authorities. Some wore wires to record their conversations that would implicate others, including Peter Deplas, a Long Island doctor who would later admit taking $120,000 in bribes.

The big break in the case, though, came after Frank Santangelo made the mistake of breaking up with his girlfriend.

Santangelo, who had a practice in Wayne, had a long history with Biodiagnostic. Over time, the lab funneled nearly $1.9 million in bribes which government prosecutors later said had generated some $6 million in revenue to Nicoll's operation.

According to the government sentencing memo obtained by NJ Advance Media, Santangelo was effectively the "in house physician" to the lab. In one exchange of texts, Nicoll asked Santangelo if he cared whether they submitted an insurance diagnostic code of 780.79 on the billing claim forms submitted for insurance reimbursement.

"don't know what that code is," texted the doctor.

Nicoll said it was for weakness and fatigue.

"[i]f that helps u! Though I try to put as many codes as I can," Santangelo responded.

Yet the physician apparently made even Nicoll uneasy, said prosecutors. Santangelo has since acknowledged he had a drinking problem and in early 2013, his medical license in New Jersey was suspended because of alcoholism. He persuaded another doctor who had his own personal problems and had admitted himself to a psychiatric treatment facility to allow Santangelo to bill under his name, according to the sentencing memo.

[y]ou are crazy. That guy is in a psych ward and you are billing under him?" Nicoll texted.

The message, and other incriminating texts proved not only to be Santangelo's undoing, but the nail in the coffin for Biodiagnostic. The doctor had given his old iPhone to his girlfriend. After an angry break-up, she discovered his texts to Nicoll and took the phone to the Hanover Township police, according to the government's sentencing memo.

"I had them in the palm (of) my hand until that [expletive] stole my Phone," he complained to Nicoll after learning what she did.

According to prosecutors, Santangelo later threatened the woman's life, telling Nicoll: "We were clear and free if it wasn't for her."

Prosecutors in the memo said the girlfriend went to police after reading the text and others after a disagreement over money Santangelo had asked her "to hold in her own name during the physician's divorce proceedings from his wife."

How the messages got in the hands of BCBS was not explained, but eventually they landed at the U.S. Attorney's office.

In the early morning hours of April 9, 2013, the FBI came to knock on David Nicoll's door with a warrant for his arrest.

Aftermath

Nicoll, his brother Scott, and Craig Nordman were charged together in the initial criminal complaint, along with Santangelo. The complaint, which did not identify any other physicians by name, only hinted at the extent of the scheme, with references that used the initials of those who had been paid off as well, but had not yet been charged. Only the names of two sales executives who had agreed to cooperate early on were included, giving Nicoll some warning of just how much the U.S. Attorney's office already knew.

Days later, with both Nicoll brothers and their cousin out on bail, Nordman said the three all met at the home of Nicoll's sister. They went outside in the yard to talk.

"It was just Dave, Scott and myself," Nordman recounted, in testimony during the Greenspan trial. He said the brothers thanked him for not cooperating. And talked about making their stories consistent. And to protect certain doctors. One, they thought, was "mobbed up," and he said they feared retaliation.

Not long after, all three men pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.

Since then, the charges, pleas and sentences have come at a breathtaking clip. In the past four years, 36 doctors have pleaded guilty and two have been convicted. A dozen former sales people have admitted their guilt as well, including Nicoll's brother-in-law and his cousin.

In court, the trio of federal prosecutors who handled the cases--assistant U.S. attorneys Joseph N. Minish, Danielle Alfonzo Walsman, and Jacob T. Elberg, who heads the office's Health Care and Government Fraud Unit--have repeatedly rejected suggestions that physicians were caught up in a system where giveaways from medical suppliers were the norm.

Paul Fishman, the former U.S. Attorney, said the Biodiagnostic investigation exposed a corner of the medical industry where patient care can be compromised by a doctor's loyalty.

"When you go to a doctor, you have a right to expect that he is not going to be influenced by anything other than his expertise and concern for your welfare," he said.

As for others who may have been bribed, but never charged, Fishman said bringing a criminal case always hinges on whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

"From time to time, and more often than people would like, the government gets credible evidence that someone committed a crime, but not sufficient evidence that allows them to be prosecuted," he said.

Most of those caught up in the scheme have trudged into the third-floor ornate courtroom of U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler. The former federal prosecutor has made it clear at many of their sentencing hearings that he wanted to send a message that "there is nothing about this conduct that is acceptable."

While a few physicians who cooperated with prosecutors have received probation, Chesler has sent many to prison for three years or more, saying there are "enough problem with medical costs in this country" without the problem of medical kickbacks being paid to physicians.

"The Nicolls were simply businessmen. As the record reflects, totally corrupt businessmen," Chesler noted at the sentencing of the Roussis brothers, who both pleaded guilty. But he added that there were doctors "more than eager" to take the benefits offered them. And that there was a critical difference between Biodiagnostic and the doctors.

"The doctors took an oath," declared Chesler. "They had a place in society where people could trust them."

George Roussis, 47, the pediatrician who bragged about the number of allergy blood tests he ordered on his young patients, was sentenced to 37 months and is now at the federal prison at Lewisburg, Pa. His older brother Nicholas, 49, is at the same prison and will serve two years. Attorneys for both did not respond to requests for comment.

The judge told Ostrager, the physician who pushed the blood lab to provide tickets to Justin Bieber and Katy Perry concerts, along with thousands in payments each month, that he, too, forgot the oath he had taken.

"It wasn't an oath to make as much money as I can. It was to serve your patients as well as you could," said Chesler, in imposing a 37-month sentence.

Bret Ostrager, 52, is at the prison in Otisville, N.Y. He did not respond to a letter from a reporter seeking comment.

Frank Santangelo, 48, pleaded guilty and is serving a five-year term at the federal prison camp at Fort Dix. Contacted in prison, Santangelo had initially agreed to an interview, but later had a change of heart after administrators would not permit a face-to-face meeting with a reporter and would only approve a conference call.

Bernard Greenspan was convicted at trial and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls to more than three years for taking approximately $200,000 in bribes. Now 80, he's at a prison medical center in North Carolina. His attorneys did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment.

Craig Nordman, 39, the cousin of Nicoll who testified in the Greenspan trial and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering, is awaiting sentencing. His attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

There are no more trials scheduled, although the U.S. Attorney's office has not said if anyone else will be charged. A spokesman declined comment.

David Nicoll, the mastermind behind Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, will not be sentenced until all the cases are concluded. He has yet to face Chesler.

Today he is living with a friend, doing construction work, said his attorney. He is also a compliance officer for an online school and is creating an interactive web class for an SAT prep course.

Nicoll's prized car collection is gone, auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals Service. Other possessions have been seized in forfeiture as well. He is out of the big home in Mountain Lakes and his New Jersey nursing license has been revoked. Biodiagnostic Labs is shut down.

Facing 20 years for money laundering and five years for conspiracy to bribe, Nicoll hopes to get less time in prison as a result of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors.

But he is realistic.

"Are you going to jail?" Nicoll was asked during his testimony.

"Yes, sir, I am," he said.

Source: NJ.com

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