New York, Mar 27: An Indian-origin paediatrician in the US has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by a diagnostic firm.

Surender Gorukanti, 46, of Brooklyn, New York, admitted before US District Judge Stanley Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes, Attorney Paul Fishman said.

Besides Gorukanti, 24 people,  including 14 physicians have pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organisers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than USD 100 million in payments to the diagnostic firm from Medicare and various private insurance companies.

Gorukanti admitted he accepted cheques of USD 1,000 per month as bribes from the firm in return for referring patient blood specimens to it. The bribery count to which Gorukanti pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a USD 250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16.

As part of his guilty plea, Gorukanti agreed to forfeit USD 14,000, representing the bribes he received from the firm. The investigation has recovered more than USD 7 million to date through forfeiture.