CAMDEN, N.J. – A former Atlantic County resident now living in Florida admitted defrauding New Jersey state health benefits programs out of millions of dollars by submitting fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary prescriptions, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and N.J. Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced.
Robert Madonna, 36, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Compounded medications are supposed to be specialty medications mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Although compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are properly prescribed when a physician determines that an FDA-approved medication does not meet the health needs of a particular patient, such as if a patient is allergic to a dye or other ingredient.
Madonna was one of the owners of a company formed to market prescription compounded medications, referred to as Company 1. From May 2015 through February 2016, Madonna and others associated with the company persuaded individuals in New Jersey to obtain very expensive and medically unnecessary compounded medications.
The conspirators learned that certain compound medication prescriptions – including pain, scar, and antifungal creams, as well as vitamin combinations – were reimbursed for thousands of dollars for a one-month supply. The conspirators also learned that the N.J. State Health Benefits Program, which covers qualified state and local government employees, retirees, and eligible dependents, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program, which covers qualified local education employees, retirees, and eligible dependents, would cover compound medication prescriptions.
Madonna and his conspirators entered into an agreement under which Company 1 would receive a percentage of the amounts paid to compounding pharmacies for prescriptions secured by Madonna and his conspirators. Madonna and his conspirators then recruited public employees, offered them hundreds of dollars per month, and persuaded them to agree to obtain prescription compounded medications without any examination by a medical professional that the medications were medically necessary. Madonna would obtain insurance and personal information from the public employees and give that information to conspirators. A doctor then would call the public employees and complete the prescription without personally examining the employees or having a prior doctor/patient relationship with them. Company 1 would receive a percentage of the amounts paid on these fraudulent prescriptions, which Madonna and others would divide.
According to the information, Madonna and his conspirators caused New Jersey to pay more than $2 million in fraudulent claims for compounded medications for public employees.
Madonna received $179,370 in gross proceeds for his role in the scheme. As part of his plea agreement, Madonna must forfeit these criminal proceeds and pay restitution of at least $2,092,791.
Madonna faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited agents of the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John Tafur in Newark: and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Division of Pensions and Financial Transactions in the State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Grewal and Division Chief Eileen Schlindwein Den Bleyker, for its assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. David Walk, Jr. and Jacqueline M. Carle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.