A former North Brunswick police officer admitted Monday that he cashed in on a multi-million-dollar health insurance scam by recruiting patients to obtain prescriptions for drugs they didn’t need.
Daniel Passafiume, 45, of Monroe took a plea deal from federal prosecutors after an unidentified co-conspirator agreed to cooperate with the government, records show.
Passafiume and the accomplice cut deals with pharmacies to collect large commissions for each prescription they delivered for “compounded medications,” including vitamins and pain creams, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
The two sought out patients with New Jersey state insurance plans, including the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP), that would pay for the drugs, Honig said.
They then connected the patients to doctors who “were willing to sign prescriptions without an examination or a determination that the individuals needed the compounded medications,” the U.S. attorney said.
Those recruited to play along with the scam included members of an unidentified police department, their relatives and Passafiume’s own family members, Honig said.
Passafiume paid recruits in cash, checks, and gift cards to obtain the medically unnecessary medications, she said.
Compounded meds -- mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of a patient – “may be appropriate for a patient who is allergic to a dye or other ingredient or a patient who cannot consume a medication by traditional means, such as an elderly patient or child who needs the medication in a liquid form instead of an FDA-approved pill,” the U.S. attorney explained.
Although not approved by the FDA, the specialty drugs are nonetheless reimbursed by the insurance programs, she said.
Rather than go to trial, Passafiume took a deal from the government, pleading guilty Monday via teleconference to conspiring to commit health care fraud in exchange for sentencing leniency.
As part of the deal, he agreed to forfeit $284,659 in criminal proceeds and pay restitution of $3.27 million, Honig said.
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp, sitting in Newark, scheduled sentencing for July 27.
Honig credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office with the investigation leading to the plea, secured by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz of her Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Osmar J. Benvenuto of her Health Care Fraud Unit.
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