Owner Of Empire Pharmacy In Hudson County Admits Role In Multi-Million Dollar Conspiracies To Commit Health Care Fraud And Pay Illegal Bribes To Doctor
TRENTON, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man today admitted participating in conspiracies to commit health care fraud and to bribe a doctor, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Eduard “Eddy” Shtindler, 36, of Paramus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks to a doctor.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2012 through at least 2017, Shtindler owned and operated the now-defunct Empire Pharmacy in West New York, New Jersey. Starting in 2015, Empire began filling prescriptions for expensive specialty medication that required “prior authorization” before being approved for reimbursement payment by Medical, Medicaid, and some private insurance providers. To entice doctors to use Empire to fill such medications, Shtindler planned to have Empire receive prior authorization approval more successfully than any other pharmacies. He directed Empire employees, including two pharmacists, to repeatedly falsify prior authorization forms for medications for different conditions, including psoriasis and Hepatitis C. Shtindler was captured on recorded conversations admitting to his and Empire’s practice of falsifying prior authorization forms in order to receive approval for medication that would not have otherwise been approved.
From 2012 through early 2017, Shtindler participated in a conspiracy to pay bribes to a psychiatrist in Hudson County, New Jersey, to induce the doctor to send prescriptions to Empire. Shtindler sent Empire employees to deliver some of the bribe payments to the doctor. On occasion, Shtindler secreted cash bribes, in $100 denominations, in pill bottles that were delivered to the doctor. In exchange for these bribes, the doctor steered patients to use Empire pharmacy, even though the patients used other pharmacies closer to their homes for all of their other prescriptions. In one recorded conversation between Shtindler and a concerned former Empire employee who had delivered a bribe to the doctor on Shtindler’s behalf, Shtindler was captured stating, “You think [the doctor]’s going to go to the FBI and rat himself out?” In another conversation with the same former employee regarding the same topic of bribe payment Shtindler had the employee deliver to the doctor, Shtindler was captured saying, “First off, I didn’t make you do it. I didn’t put a gun to your head. We all made money together.” Shtindler concluded, “It is business.”
As part of his plea agreement, Shtindler agreed to loss amounts between $1.5 million and $3.5 million for each of the charged conspiracies to which he pleaded guilty.
The count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and the count of conspiring to pay illegal kickbacks is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. Both offenses are punishable by a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for March 24, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; and the N.J. Office of the State Comptroller, under the direction of Comptroller Philip James Degnan, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua L. Haber of the Health Care & Government Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
Defense counsel: Albert Y. Dayan. Esq., Queens, New York