Home Health

Local official in New Jersey admits to accepting bribes in exchange for patient referrals

A New Jersey local official has admitted to accepting bribes in exchange for referring patients who needed home health care aides.

Myrtha Nicolas, 61, of Jersey City, N.J., pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of official right, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Nicolas was employed through the Hudson County Office on Aging, an agency of the N.J. Division of Disability Services (DDS) in the Department of Human Services. As a referral coordinator, her job was to coordinate and assign patients with disabilities in need of home health services to home health companies who provide aide services.

In June of 2016, Nicolas agreed to accept $500 per patient referral from a self-employed executive of a home health care company, according to the release. She went on to accept a $600 payment in January 2017 and a $1,000 payment in October 2017 in exchange for patient referrals, the release states.

The charge of extortion under color of official right charge carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2020.

Related link: Learn more about the case at http://bit.ly/35dUII2.