CHICAGO (CBS) — A former fundraiser for ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has agreed to plead guilty to health care fraud charges unrelated to his ties to the two disgraced politicians.
Raghuveer Nayak was scheduled to enter his guilty plea in federal court Friday afternoon, avoiding a trial that had been set to begin next month, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Nayak, 57, a wealthy Indian-American businessman, allegedly was willing to raise up to $6 million in campaign funds for Blagojevich, in exchange for Jackson being appointed to President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat after Obama was elected to the White House in 2008. He also admittedly paid to have restaurant hostess Giovanna Huidobro, with whom Jackson was having an affair, flown between Chicago and Washington, D.C. on two occasions.
Neither Jackson nor Nayak were charged in that case, which is unrelated to the medical fraud case in which Nayak will plead guilty.
In that case, federal authorities alleged Nayak paid bribes and kickbacks to other physicians for patient referrals, and filed false tax returns that understated his income. Nayak owns two Rogers Park surgical centers, and has interest in eight more outpatient centers.
Last summer, Nayak was charged with 10 counts of mail fraud, five counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and four counts of filing false income tax returns for the years 2005-08.
Between 2000 and December 2010, Nayak allegedly defrauded patients by paying and arranging to pay bribes and kickbacks in the form of cash and other hidden payments to physicians who would refer their patients to Nayak’s facilities for medical treatment, prosecutors said.
Nayak paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to different physicians in exchange for patient referrals, the charges allege.
Prosecutors said Nayak allegedly concealed and attempted to conceal the scheme by making payments in cash, disguising the payments as advertising, or by disguising the true purpose of the payments.
The tax counts allege that Nayak understated his gross income when he reported the following amounts: $4,643,916 for 2005; $6,471,865 for 2006; $5,791,109 for 2007; and $9,362,647 for 2008.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $1.8 million in alleged fraud proceeds, or substitute assets, including Nayak’s Oak Brook residence, the Rogers Park One Day Surgery Center, Inc., located at 7616 North Paulina St., and the Lakeshore Surgery Center LLC, located at 7200 North Western Ave.