Former Police Officer Admits Role in Multimillion-Dollar Compounded Prescription Drug Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A former police officer with the North Brunswick police department today admitted his role in a multimillion-dollar scheme that defrauded state health benefits programs through the submission of medically unnecessary prescriptions for compounded medications, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Daniel Passafiume, 45, of Monroe, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with conspiring to commit health care fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between January 2014 and November 2016, Passafiume and a conspirator, identified as CC-1 in the information, marketed certain prescription “compounded medications,” including vitamins and pain creams, to beneficiaries of New Jersey state insurance plans, including the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP). These insurance plans paid thousands of dollars for compounded medications, which are specialty medications mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Although compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are properly prescribed when a physician determines that an FDA-approved medication does not meet the health needs of a particular patient because, for example, the patient is allergic to a dye or other ingredient or requires the medication in a different form.
Passafiume and his conspirator had agreements with pharmacies to collect large commission payments for each prescription they obtained for the pharmacy. Passafiume and CC-1 found individuals with these insurance plans and connected them with doctors who were willing to sign prescriptions without an examination or a determination that the individuals needed the compounded medications. Those recruited to obtain prescriptions included employees of a New Jersey police department, family members of these employees, and Passafiume’s own family members. At times, Passafiume provided beneficiaries with cash, checks, and gift cards for agreeing to obtain these prescriptions.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. As part of his plea agreement, Passafiume must forfeit $284,659 in criminal proceeds and pay restitution of $3.27 million. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz of the Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Osmar J. Benvenuto of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.