The Newark Star-Ledger reported yesterday that four cardiologists who were allegedly given plum academic jobs at UMDNJ in exchange for kickbacks agreed to pay the government almost $400,000 to settle the civil lawsuits against them. This is a great victory for the U.S. Attorney, who was prosecuting these cases. However, we must acknowledge and thank Dr. Rohit Arora, UMDNJ’s former Chief of its Cardiology Division, the whistleblower who first exposed the kickback scheme. Had Dr. Arora not come forward, New Jersey would have wasted hundreds of thousands of tax dollars paying the salaries of these individuals, who, as claimed by Dr. Arora and the U.S. Attorney, did not have the credentials or qualifications to be members of the academic staff of the University. Moreover, the students of UMDNJ would have been deprived of professors who truly had something to teach, in favor of the greedy and the unethical.
This case highlights the fact that the public service which whistleblowers perform is significant and necessary. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Here we are almost a year after Dr. Arora settled his whistleblower lawsuit and the positive effects are still being felt.
The new President of the UMDNJ, Dr. William Owen, has publicly declared that the end of the corruption is in sight. I am cautiously optimistic that this is the case. It is way past time for the University to acknowledge its mistakes — especially its mistakes in the way it has treated, and, in some cases, continues to mistreat, whistleblowers.