Authorities have arrested the owner of a network of MRI centers for allegedly running an elaborate criminal enterprise, and bilking Medicaid out of millions of dollars.

Operation Ray Scam (Photo courtesy of NJ Attorney General's Office)

During a news conference Thursday in Newark, acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said 45-year-old Rehan "Ray" Zuberi of Boonton Township is being held behind bars in lieu of $1 million bail.

"He orchestrated a complex scheme that allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks to medical practitioners in exchange for patient referrals to his facilities," Hoffman said.

Twelve others, including Zuberi's wife, father and two brothers-in-law, have also been arrested in connection with the scheme, which defrauded the Medicaid program of more than $8 million.

Hoffman said he was disgusted by the crime because "medical providers should base their decisions on their patients' needs, and not on their own wallets."

More than 100 investigators executed more than a dozen search warrants around the state and seized large sums of money and high-end sports cars including a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Mercedes. In addition, liens were placed on equipment at several Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates offices, and on Zuberi's home.

Hoffman said the enterprise set up shell corporations to allegedly launder the millions of dollars illegally gained through the scheme, and to distribute the kickbacks. Zuberi was convicted in 1998 of theft by deception for having defrauded Medicaid, and he served time in a state prison before being paroled.

Zuberi and four other defendants are facing first-degree racketeering charges, and could face up to 20 years in prison and a criminal fine of $200,000.

Investigators believe the MRI and X-ray tests performed were necessary, and so far no doctors have been charged criminally, but Hoffman said that could change as the investigation moves forward.

"Undoubtedly and inevitably (these crimes) affect us all -- they undermine the integrity in the medical system, they retard necessary competition and they drive up the costs for all of us," Hoffman said.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call 877-55-FRAUD.