Fort Lee Insurance Broker From Old Tappan Admits Role In $5.6M Health Insurance Scheme

A Fort Lee insurance broker who lives in Old Tappan admitted his role Friday in siphoning millions of dollars from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2326 Health Care Plan.

A federal grand jury in Newark returned the indictment.
A federal grand jury in Newark returned the indictment. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT file photo

Lawrence Ackerman, 54, conspired with the former Local 2326 president, Sergio Acosta, to defraud Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of $5.6 million by covering 700 to 800 ineligible participants through bogus – or “shell’ – companies, a federal indictment handed up last year charged.

Acosta, formerly of Passaic, pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in April.

Ackerman, who acted as the CEO of the various companies, pleaded guilty to health care fraud for "delivering $481,500 in health care benefits to ineligible participants" whom authorities said he recruited from across the country.

After Horizon discovered the fraud and rescinded its coverage from the union, Acosta “permitted the same ineligible participants to continue being covered by the Local 2326 self-insured health care plan,” the federal indictment says. “After just five months, an additional $1 million in losses were incurred.”

"Under terms of the plea agreement, Ackerman will be responsible for making full restitution to Horizon and to the union’s benefit plan for their losses," U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Friday.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 20, 2019.

Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for the New York Region, the Office of Employee Benefit Security Act (EBSA) and the Office of Labor Management Standards for the investigation leading to the pleas, secured by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley of Fishman’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of his Narcotics/OCDETF, both in Newark.

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