Ocean County, New Jersey, Man Admits Bribing Doctor As Part Of Compounding Pharmacy Fraud Scheme
CAMDEN, N.J. – A Manchester, New Jersey, man today admitted paying tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to a sports medicine doctor on behalf of Prescriptions R Us, a compound pharmacy in Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Howard Wertheim, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of paying kickbacks.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Wertheim admitting that from February 2013 through October 2013, he worked for Vladimir Kleyman, 44, of Lakewood, New Jersey, the president and pharmacist-in-charge of Prescriptions R Us. As a compounding pharmacy, Prescriptions R Us prepared medication using different types and dosages of drugs in order to provide more personalized medications for patients. Prescriptions R Us supplied a topical cream for pain treatment that was made from ketamine (a Schedule III non-narcotic), lidocaine, diclofenac and other ingredients.
Wertheim admitted that Kleyman paid him to help recruit and pay physicians to refer their prescriptions to Prescriptions R Us. Wertheim admitted that as part of the scheme, he paid tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes to James Morales, 45, a sports medicine doctor with a practice in Toms River, New Jersey, in exchange for referring pain cream prescriptions.
The kickback charge to which Wertheim pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2016. As part of his plea agreement, Wertheim must forfeit $25,000, representing the money he made as payment for his work as a middle-man in the scheme.
Morales, who admitted accepting more than $60,000 in cash bribes as part of the scheme, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to accept kickbacks and health care fraud on June 29, 2015 and awaits sentencing. Kleyman, who previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to pay kickbacks and to commit health care fraud on Oct. 14, 2014, was sentenced Nov. 4, 2015 to 20 months in prison.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane H. Yoon and R. David Walk Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $640 million in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
Defense counsel: William Cunningham, Brick, New Jersey