Federal Court in Camden

Mitchell H. Cohen Building and U.S. Courthouse in Camden

TRENTON — A second local teacher involved in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud the state health benefits system has lost his teaching license.

Shawn Sypherd, of the Marmora section of Upper Township, who taught social studies at Middle Township Middle School, can no longer hold a teaching job in New Jersey. The state Board of Examiners at its August meeting approved revoking Sypherd’s license and at its September meeting adopted its formal written decision ordering Sypherd to return his teaching certificates to the state within 30 days.

The decision was predicated on a state law that bars those convicted of crimes of dishonesty from teaching in public schools.

Neither Sypherd’s attorney, Lisa Evans Lewis, nor the state Department of Education responded to requests for comment.

Richard “Erick” McAllister, a former Pleasantville English teacher, was the first certificated professional involved in the case to lose his license. McAllister, 44, of Ocean City pleaded guilty in March 2018 and was subsequently fired. He was ordered to surrender his teaching license in the spring.

Since August 2017, more than 30 people have been charged in the fraud scheme targeting the state health benefits system, specifically teachers, firefighters, police officers and State Police troopers, with 25 pleading guilty and 11 others — including alleged ringleaders Sara and William Hickman, of Northfield, and co-conspirators firefighters John and Thomas Sher, local business owner Brian Pugh, police officer Thomas Schallus and firefighter Christopher Broccoli — pleading not guilty.

Last week, two doctors from Trenton and Stratford, Camden County, a medical assistant and a laboratory sales representative from Sewell, Gloucester County, also pleaded not guilty.

In addition to Sypherd and McAllister, school guidance counselor Michael Pilate and Margate Dr. John Gaffney have pleaded guilty, but there has been no action against their certificates available for review. The state Board of Medical Examiners website lists Gaffney’s license as “pre-renewal accepted.”

Sypherd pleaded guilty in February 2018 in federal court for his role. According to his plea, between January 2015 and April 2016, Sypherd solicited individuals to submit unneeded prescriptions for compounded medications in order to receive thousands of dollars in kickbacks from an out-of-state compounding pharmacy.

His actions resulted in more than $2.4 million in fraudulent reimbursements from the State Health Benefits Plan. He received more than $354,264 for his role as a recruiter, court documents show.

Sypherd is a 1989 graduate of Ocean City High School. He started teaching in New Jersey in 2001, state data show. As of September 2017, the state reported Sypherd earned a salary of $60,999, but he was removed from the Middle Township School District after his plea.

Sentencing for Sypherd is scheduled for Nov. 14 in Camden before Judge Robert B. Kugler, but the date is subject to change.

Contact: 609-272-7251


Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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