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

CAMDEN — For the second time, attorneys in the ongoing pharmaceutical fraud case have asked for more time to work through piles of documentation.

About 30 people have been charged in the case, with more than 20 pleading guilty so far.

Attorneys for seven defendants, including alleged ringleaders William and Sara Hickman, of Northfield, asked District Judge Robert Kugler to put off scheduling the start of a trial at a status conference Tuesday afternoon.

The defendants, charged in a roughly $50 million scheme prosecutors say involved billing the state’s public employee health benefits plans for medically unnecessary compounded medication and receiving kickbacks from an out-of-state pharmacy, were not in the courtroom.

Their attorneys said they have received about 500,000 pages of documents in the process of discovery that they still need to sift through. Some doctors’ illegible handwriting has slowed the process, said Samuel Moulthrop, who is representing William Hickman. About 150 health care providers wrote prescriptions related to the case, said Moulthrop, though he doesn’t believe all are implicated.

The attorneys asked that the court wait 90 days before scheduling the trial, preferably waiting until mid-January to avoid conflicts with the holiday season.

“We’re a long way from plowing through them,” Moulthrop said.

Kugler agreed that analyzing mountains of documents is a “daunting task” but added the court has “been at this for some time.” He scheduled the next status conference for Nov. 26 and said he would like to discuss any potential motions so they can be filed before the end of the year.

Kugler’s decision Tuesday follows a 90-day continuance in June for the same reason, with attorneys arguing then that they needed more time to wrap their heads around large amounts of documents.

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. David Walk Jr., said his team’s evidence also includes about 550,000 pages of documents, representing about 250 interview memos and 120 gigabytes of data, but said the prosecution would like to “get to the point.”

Represented in court Tuesday alongside William Hickman, 43, a pharmaceutical sales representative, and Sara Hickman, 42, a former charter school representative, were the following:

Thomas Schallus, 42, a Ventnor police officer

Brian Pugh, 42, of Absecon, co-owner of Tony’s Baltimore Grill and owner of BP Med 1 LLC

Christopher Broccoli, 47, of West Deptford, Gloucester County, a Camden firefighter

Thomas Sher, 46, of Northfield, and John Sher, 37, of Margate, both Margate firefighters

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

Contact: 609-272-7260

cshaw@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressColtShaw

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

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