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Ex-physician's assistant sentenced for role in health care fraud conspiracy

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

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CAMDEN — A Burlington County man and former physician’s assistant on Wednesday was sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in a South Jersey scheme that defrauded taxpayer-funded health benefit plans of millions of dollars.

Aaron Jones, 28, of Willingboro, became the scheme’s second conspirator to be sentenced for their involvement, joining Steven Monaco, 40, who was sentenced Monday.

Both men were sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler in federal court.

Jones’ actions contributed to $1 million being lost by the state health insurance plans. Kugler is directing Jones to pay $1.04 million in restitution and undergo three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Jones in March pleaded guilty to helping drive Monaco’s plan, which involved having former Stratford, Camden County, physician Dr. Michael Goldis fill prescriptions for unnecessary compound mediations, seeking large reimbursements from the state’s health insurance plans.

Court records show Jones, who was employed by Goldis, was paid by a pharmaceutical sales representative, Richard Zappala, to spot patients carrying insurance plans that would pay for the compound drugs.

In doing so, Jones received $10,000 for his work, according to court records.

Jones forged Goldis’ signature on many prescriptions, including for non-patients, despite a lack of indications as to whether the drugs were necessary for treatment, court records show.

Zappala pleaded guilty to his charges in September 2017, followed by Goldis in June 2020. Both men await sentencing.

Monaco recruited Zappala to join the scheme. As a pharmaceutical salesman for a diagnostic laboratory, Monaco made about $350,000 from the scheme, costing public insurance over $4.6 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Monaco was convicted in April of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, health care fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Travel Act.

Monaco had Goldis and his assistant, Jason Chacker, sign off on prescriptions for Monaco’s family and others who did not consult with the doctor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Other conspirators, including Chacker, are set to be sentenced in the coming months.

Northfield drug salesman William Hickman is set to be sentenced this month in a more local version of the scheme. Others yet to be sentenced include three brothers, Thomas, Michael and John Sher, all of whom are former Margate firefighters who took part in the conspiracy under Hickman.

Contact Eric Conklin:

609-272-7261

econklin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressConklin

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