A New Jersey doctor has admitted accepting $1.8 million in bribes to refer patients to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services for blood work.

Dr. Frank Santangelo of Booton pleaded guilty before a U.S. District Judge to charges of violating the Travel Act, money laundering and failing to file tax returns, after he steered millions of dollars in business to BLS as part of a long-running scheme operated by the President of the lab, and several associates.

“Patients should be able to trust that their doctors are prescribing only tests that are necessary and are recommending providers who are best qualified to perform those tests. In pleading guilty today to the charges against him, Dr. Santangelo admitted he violated that trust. He committed the type of fraud that drives up the cost of health care and compromises patient care,” said U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman

FBI New Jersey Special Agent in Charge Aaron Ford added “the investigation of Dr. Santangelo is another sad story of a doctor putting his greed ahead of his oath of fidelity to his patients.”

The bribery count to which Santangelo pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge, and a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine on the tax charge.

Sentencing for Santangelo is scheduled for Oct. 24.