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Sentencings postponed again in prescription fraud case
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Sentencings postponed again in prescription fraud case

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United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in Camden

CAMDEN — Sentencings have been postponed again for the more than two dozen people who have pleaded guilty as part of a more than $50 million health care benefits fraud scheme.

Originally scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week, the majority of the sentencings were moved to October before federal Judge Robert B. Kugler, court records show.

Richard “Erick” McAllister, a former English teacher in Pleasantville, and James Wildman, an Ocean City school maintenance worker, are scheduled to be sentenced July 23 and Aug. 3, respectively.

Given that it’s a complex federal case involving a large number of co-defendants, some of the defendants’ attorneys previously said postponements are not at all unusual.

The case is centered on a massive prescription fraud scheme between January 2015 and April 2016 that involved the recruitment of public employees, including teachers, firefighters and police officers, to obtain medically unnecessary prescriptions, netting kickbacks for the conspirators, court documents show.

More than 30 people have been charged in the case since August 2017, and only one defendant has been sentenced so far.

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In August, Kristie Masucci, 37, of the Cedar Run section of Stafford Township, became the first person sentenced in the case. Masucci received two years in federal prison with three years’ probation and was ordered to pay about $1.8 million in restitution.

Two status conferences for the group of seven South Jersey co-defendants who have pleaded not guilty in the case, including Northfield residents William and Sara Hickman, who prosecutors allege were major figures in the scheme, have been held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next hearing for those defendants has not yet been set, court records show, but replies to any oppositions to pretrial motions are due Monday.

Their trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 21, also before Kugler, with jury selection slated for Aug. 24.

Those yet to be sentenced include Robert Bessey, a gym floor installer from Philadelphia; pharmaceutical broker Steve Urbanski; former Atlantic City firefighter Michael Pepper; Dr. John Gaffney; and pharmaceutical representatives Matthew Tedesco, Thomas Hodnett, Judd Holt, George Gavras, Richard Zappala, Michael Neopolitan and Andrew Gerstel. They are scheduled for sentencing Oct. 19.

Scheduled for sentencing Oct. 20 are commercial construction estimator Timothy Frazier; Pleasantville guidance counselor Michael Pilate; Middle Township teacher Shawn Sypherd; Nicholas Tedesco, a retail director for a candy company; Michael J. Sher, a retired Margate firefighter; industrial salesman William Hunter; pharmaceutical representatives Tara LaMonaca and Mark Bruno; Robert Madonna, a former Margate mortgage consultant; and Ventnor firefighters Edward and Corey Sutor.

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

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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