- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Another doctor has pleaded guilty in a long-running bribes-for-test referrals scheme involving a northern New Jersey firm.

Federal prosecutors say 53-year-old Ralph Messo, of Colts Neck, recently pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced May 12, and also will forfeit $82,500 he received in the scheme.

Prosecutors say Messo, who has practices in Staten Island, New York and in Colts Neck, got the bribes from Parsippany-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in exchange for test referrals. Messo was paid about $3,000 per month and his referrals generated at least $828,000 in lab business for the company.

Thirty-four people - including 23 physicians - have now pleaded guilty 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 $10.5 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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