NJ doctor, 3 others charged in $10M kickback scheme to prescribe pain creams to USPS workers


By Jeff Goldman – July 16, 2019
A New Jersey doctor, the owner of a pharmacy and two of their associates have been charged in a $10 million fraud scheme involving kickbacks for medically-unnecessary pain cream prescriptions provided to postal workers, officials said.

Dr. Mark Filippone, 71, of Wallington, Joseph Miller, 33, of Fort Lee, Marlene Vangelas, 58, of River Vale and Zachary Ohebshalom, 33, of Edgewater are each charged with conspiring to commit health care fraud and violating the federal anti-kickback statute.

Fillipone treated hundreds of now former U.S. Postal Service employees for injuries they suffered while at work beginning in November 2015, officials said. He aided in their disability claims by filling out forms and sending medical reports to the federal workers’ compensation program for patients who traveled from as far as Florida to see him, authorities said.

The Jersey City-based doctor also prescribed medically-unnecessary topical pain cream that many patients didn’t even want, directing them to fill the prescription at a pharmacy in Fair Lawn owned by Vangelas, authorities said.

Vangelas, Miller, who had a financial stake in the pharmacy, and Ohebshalom then directed the pharmacists to include ingredients in the creams that would maximize the amount the federal workers’ compensation program would reimburse the business, court papers say.

They also printed prescription labels for Fillipone to use with his patients.

Later, Miller and Vangelas bought the building where Filippone practiced at an above-market rate, letting him rent it free of charge as long as he continued to write prescriptions for them, officials said.

In all, the pharmacy dispensed $10,552,144.51 in unnecessary prescriptions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

All four appeared in federal court in Newark on Tuesday.

Source: NJ.com

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