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Alleged health benefits fraud ringleader can go to Disney, judge rules

Alleged health benefits fraud ringleader can go to Disney, judge rules


CAMDEN — A Northfield woman charged in the ongoing $50 million health benefits fraud case may take her son to Walt Disney World, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Sara Hickman, 42, a former teacher, will be allowed to go to Orlando, Florida, “for the purposes of visiting Disney World and other amusement venues in the Orlando area,” Judge Robert B. Kugler said in his decision.

However, the couple will not be allowed to travel to Puerto Rico over the Easter holiday.

Sara and her husband, William Hickman, 42, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, pleaded not guilty to health care and wire fraud charges along with five others who were arrested in the case earlier this month.

Authorities say the couple recruited a network of people to submit fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary prescriptions and created a shell company that received about $26 million in kickbacks.

As conditions of their release, the Hickmans must post a $100,000 secured bond and surrender their passports, as well as abide by other travel restrictions. Arguments are scheduled for 2 p.m. April 5 regarding the conditions, including the freezing of their assets.

At a status conference in U.S. District Court last week, Sara Hickman’s attorney, Lee Vartan, argued she be allowed to go on the Disney trip that was already planned and paid for.

“Both Hickmans have known about the investigation for two years,” Vartan said, adding they left the country twice over that time with family and came back each time. “We don’t believe they are a flight risk.”

Vartan did not immediately return a request for comment.

The seven join a total of 30 people charged in the case since August 2017. Most are from Atlantic County, and the list includes teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees along with a doctor and pharmaceutical representatives.

Contact: 609-272-7241 Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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