Postal workers traveled from as far as Florida and Georgia to visit a Wallington doctor who helped the owners of a Fair Lawn pharmacy defraud a federal workers’ compensation program out of $10 million, authorities said.
Federal agents on Tuesday raided the Morrissee Avenue home-office of Dr. Mark Filippone, 71, whom they accused of submitting bogus reports that allowed hundreds of now-former U.S. Postal Service employees to submit disability claims for injuries they purportedly suffered on the job.
Filippone, a licensed physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, also prescribed “expensive but medically unnecessary, pain creams” to the patients, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Filippone was forced to keep writing the prescriptions and steering them to Jiffy Scripts pharmacy on Promenade Boulevard in Fair Lawn, Carpenito said.
According to the U.S. attorney, co-owners Joseph Miller, 33, of Fort Lee, and Marlene Vangelas, 58, of River Vale bought Filippone’s office for above fair market value.
They then “permitted Filippone to continue to use the premises, for which he routinely failed to pay rent,” Carpenito said.
Miller, Vangelas, and a fourth defendant -- Zachary Ohebshalom, 33, of Edgewater – “conspired to leverage the property to force Filippone to continue to send prescriptions to their pharmacy,” the U.S. attorney said.
Filippone “continued to feed prescriptions to the pharmacy, so long as Miller and Vangelas permitted him to remain rent-free in the property,” he said.
Meanwhile, the trio directed their pharmacists to “mine reimbursement rates within the federal workers’ compensation program for the ingredients of the pain creams in order to determine the most lucrative formulations,” Carpenito said.
They “then printed prescription labels for Filippone to use with his patients,” he said.
Filippone used the pre-printed labels and sent the prescriptions back to Miller, Vangelas, and Ohebshalom, the U.S. attorney said.
All four were due in federal court in Newark for first appearances Tuesday afternoon. They’re charged with conspiring to commit health care fraud and violating the federal anti-kickback statute.
Carpenito credited the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the IRS with the investigation leading to the charges.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Eskew of Carpenito’s Health Care & Government Fraud Unit.
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