TRENTON — The former Pleasantville English teacher who pleaded guilty last year to his role in the multi-million dollar federal health benefits fraud case can no longer teach in New Jersey.

Richard "Erick" McAllister became the first of the four individuals in the case who hold state certifications to have his license revoked.

In an opinion issued by the state Board of Examiners on March 8, the board ordered that McAllister return to the state his Teacher of English Certificate of Eligibility and his Teacher of English certificate.

"Because the Legislature and the Commissioner consider McAllister’s offense so significant, the Board believes that the only appropriate sanction in this case is the revocation of his certificates," the opinion reads.

McAllister's attorney Edward F. Borden of Cherry Hill could not be reached for comment.

McAllister, 43, of Ocean City was terminated from his position in Pleasantville after pleading guilty in March 2018 to acting as a recruiter in the scheme that targeted both the state and school employee health benefits plans. Thirty-one people have been charged and 24 have pleaded guilty, so far.

According to his plea agreement, McAllister agreed to forfeit $456,806 and pay restitution of at least $3.4 million for his role in the scheme.

The state's statute regarding criminal history review bars individuals convicted of crimes of dishonesty from teaching in public schools because "teachers must serve as role models for their students," the board opinion reads.

"In this instance, McAllister’s conviction for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud demonstrates behavior that falls far short of a role model," the opinion states.

McAllister is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17, but the sentencing dates have been changed several times.

McAllister is the only teacher who has pleaded guilty in the conspiracy to be sanctioned. Former Pleasantville supervisor of guidance Michael Pilate and former Middle Township teacher Shawn Sypherd have not been before the Board of Examiners. 

Former Galloway charter school teacher Sara Hickman has also been named in the conspiracy as a ring leader of the alleged scheme along with her husband, William Hickman, and five others, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.

In addition, no actions have been taken against Dr. John Gaffney by the state Board of Medical Examiners. Lisa Coryell, a spokeswoman from the Office of the Attorney General, previously told The Press that the board is aware of Gaffney’s situation, but was awaiting sentencing before issuing any actions against his license.

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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