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Press Release

Retired New Jersey Doctor Admits To Fabricating Documents and Faking Diagnosis to Avoid Trial

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that William Merlino, 85, of Mays Landing, NJ, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge Gerald A. McHugh on one count of obstruction of justice, arising from his creation and submission of false and fictitious medical records and doctor’s letters, and causing them to be submitted to the District Court, in an effort to keep him from having to stand trial on separate felony charges.

In August 2021, Merlino was under indictment and awaiting trial on a felony misbranding charge for selling a toxic chemical as a weight-loss drug online.  Merlino faked a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and caused fraudulent submissions to the trial court, by altering a doctor’s letters and altering legitimate medical records. The misbranding trial was postponed for months until the documents were discovered to be falsified.  In August, 2022, Merlino was convicted at trial of selling misbranded drugs online, arising from his scheme to sell the toxic industrial chemical DNP as a weight-loss drug which he manufactured in a lab in his home. 

Merlino is scheduled to be sentenced on both the obstruction charge and the misbranding trial conviction on March 16, 2023.

"Dr. Merlino submitted fraudulent medical records and letters claiming to have pancreatic cancer in an effort to avoid trial for selling misbranded drugs online," said U.S. Attorney Romero. "Obstructing justice to dodge the judicial process with claims of such a deadly cancer is particularly egregious."

“The distribution of unapproved and dangerous drugs puts consumers’ health at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge George A. Scavdis, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who jeopardize the public health.”

The cases were investigated by U.S. Food & Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, U. S. Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlantic City under the HSI Newark office and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joan Burnes.

Updated February 2, 2023

Health Care Fraud