$127M Scheme: Business Owner From Chestnut Ridge Admits To Being Major Figure In Scam, Feds Say

A marketing company owner from Rockland County admitted in federal court that he was a major figure in scamming Medicare, TRICARE, and other benefit programs out of $127 million.

Eric Karlewicz

Eric Karlewicz

Photo Credit: / INSET: Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office

Eric Karlewicz, age 44, of Chestnut Ridge, participated in a “circular scheme of kickbacks and bribes” with doctors, durable medical equipment businesses, and telemedicine companies to pull off the massive con, US Attorney Vikas Khanna said.

Karlewicz – also known as Anthony Mazza -- used his considerable cut from $63.8 million in payoffs to buy himself a fleet of luxury vehicles that included a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and a Bentley, Khanna said.

Karlewicz three years ago was among two dozen people – including the husband of Drita D'Avanzo, a star of the popular reality TV show "Mob Wives" – accused of participating in a scheme to turn Sour Patch Kids and other popular candy into THC-infused edibles.

The federal case ended up much, much bigger.

Karlewicz and his cronies steered doctors’ orders for durable medical equipment (DME) to specific manufacturers who paid them kickbacks, Khanna wrote in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark.

The equipment included back, shoulder, and knee braces, the complaint says.

Karlewicz and the conspirators also paid kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies, Khanna wrote.

Those companies, in turn, paid off doctors for the signed orders “regardless of medical necessity, often without ever speaking to the patient,” he added.

The DME suppliers “then submitted claims to federal health care benefit programs for which they received lucrative reimbursements.”

To find genuine patients, the conspirators relied on New Jersey-based Empire Pain Center Holdings, located in Monmouth County, and owned by Karlewicz that bought up lists of beneficiaries of Medicare and other health benefit programs, according to the US attorney’s signed complaint.

Employees at Empire in Eatontown were awarded commissions, bonuses, and other incentives to call the beneficiaries and press as many of them as possible to accept the equipment, it says.

“Many of the [b]eneficiaries were elderly, and Empire’s employees used various strategies to get the [b]eneficiaries to agree to receive DME, including asking compound or confusing questions,” Khanna wrote. “Some [b]eneficiaries were called multiple times.”

The DME suppliers submitted reimbursement claims to the benefit programs, then kicked a portion of the proceeds – more than $63.8 million in all -- to Karlewicz and his company, Khanna wrote.

All told, $127 million worth of false claims were submitted, the U.S. attorney added.

Karlewicz lived large, authorities charged.

Among the vehicles that Khanna said he bought were:

  • a 2015 Ferrari Berlinetta;
  • a 2019 Lamborghini Huracán;
  • a 2017 Bentley Continental;
  • three Dodge Caravans;
  • a Cadillac CTS.

Federal authorities seized the vehicles, along with tens of millions of dollars that they said Karlewicz held in various accounts with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Bank and TD Bank.

Karlewicz took a deal from the government rather than risk the possible outcome of a trial after he was caught.

He pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark on Tuesday, Oct. 9, to conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback statute and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

US District Judge Esther Salas scheduled sentencing for Feb. 20, 2024.

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