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News Indian-American Pharmacist Sentenced To Two Years For Fraud   Email this page
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New York: An Indian-American pharmacist has been sentenced to two years in prison for paying bribes and kickbacks to physicians for patient referrals.
Raghuveer Nayak, a former fundraiser and key figure in the senate seat scandal of now jailed Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich, was sentenced on Tuesday with a fine of $500,000 by US district court judge Robert Gettleman, who said the 59-year-old pharmacist had seriously "corrupted the doctor-patient relationship".

He had pleaded guilty last year to federal fraud and tax charges.

Nayak, who owns several surgery centres in Illinois and Indiana, turned tearful as he apologized in the court for letting down his family and community.

"These mistakes are mine and mine only," he said. "I stand before you asking for forgiveness."

Nayak's alleged role in Blagojevich's attempted sale of a US Senate seat nearly five years ago, however, was not taken into account by the judge while sentencing him."When it comes to the doctor-patient relationship, we all rely on our physicians to make the best recommendation possible," said Gettleman who also ordered Nayak to pay $23,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Nayak had been approached by federal agents on the day Blagojevich was arrested and decided to cooperate with authorities in return for leniency.

He had allegedly spoken to then U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson at an October 2008 meeting about raising campaign cash for Blagojevich in return for Jackson's appointment to succeed newly elected President Barack Obama in the Senate.

While Blagojevich was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison Nayak was never charged in the scandal.

Prosecutors said in court filings last month that the scandal should be kept in mind as it showed his "willingness to corrupt."

"In both contexts, he has proved that he believes money buys influence," prosecutors said.

Nayak's profits depended upon doctors bringing patients for surgery to his outpatient facilities rather than to a traditional hospital, an act for which he paid them in exchange.

Prosecutors have alleged that for over 10 years, Nayak doled out more than 80,000 dollars in cash bribes and paid for more than three million dollars in advertising for doctors in return for referrals.

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