CAMDEN — An order preventing three brothers charged in an ongoing prescription fraud case from meeting with each other or a fourth brother without lawyers present was lifted Wednesday.
“The brothers can talk to each other about any and everything except the case,” said Judge Robert Kugler, after huddling with the defense and prosecution by the bench.
Appearing in U.S. District Court in Camden on Wednesday afternoon, attorneys for John, Thomas and Michael Sher argued the family has a lot of kids, and they rely on each other for childcare.
William Hughes, who is representing Michael Sher, called the current bail condition, set by Judge Ann Marie Donio on March 15, an “unworkable situation,” both for their community and the family.
“Despite the (case), they are still a functioning family,” Hughes said.
Jerome Ballarotto, who is representing John Sher, argued at the March 15 arraignment that the conditions were too strict, and that the family was “very religious” and “very close.”
“The concern comes from … one of the brothers might be a witness,” Kugler said Wednesday, referring to Dennis Sher, who is not charged in the case.
Prosecutor David Walk argued the conditions should remain, as the court wouldn’t allow someone on trial to meet with other witnesses.
The brothers must be in the presence of their attorneys to discuss the case and are still prohibited from meeting other potential witnesses.
Kugler’s decision also removed the stipulation that a parent must be present when any of the brothers talk.
John and Thomas Sher surrendered to the FBI on March 15 in Northfield in a case that alleges state employees gamed the state pharmaceutical reimbursement system to enrich themselves through kickbacks from a Louisiana compounding pharmacy for pricey medications to the tune of more than $50 million. Some two dozen people charged have already pleaded guilty.
John and Thomas Sher are suspended without pay from the Margate Fire Department. Former Margate firefighter Michael Sher pleaded guilty last March.
Before the hearing, the brothers sat with their brother Dennis and father in the front row of an otherwise empty courtroom.
After Kugler’s decision, their father declined to comment.
Joseph Grimes, who is representing Thomas Sher, said the judge found no evidence the brothers were flight risks or a danger to the community. He said he was “very satisfied” with the ruling.