CAMDEN — A former pharmaceutical representative from Ocean County became the 21st person to admit to defrauding the state health benefits system as part of multi-million dollar scheme involving compounded cream medications.
Kristie Masucci, 36, of the Cedar Run section of Stafford Township admitted to receiving $388,608 for her role in the conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler on Monday. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matthew Reilly said that Masucci was not employed as a pharmaceutical representative at the time of the crime.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Masucci served as a recruiter from January 2015 through February 2016, persuading individuals in Atlantic County and elsewhere with state benefits to obtain medically unnecessary compounded medications from an out-of-state pharmacy.
Compounded medications, which are medications specially mixed by a pharmacist to meet the needs of an individual patient, are reimbursed by health insurance providers at very high rates. In this case, the creams included pain, scar, antifungal, and libido creams, as well as vitamin combinations and were reimbursed for thousands of dollars for a one-month supply.
Taking advantage of this, Masucci and her co-conspirators targeted teachers, police officers, firefighters, state troopers and other state and municipal employees to participate in the scheme, the plea agreement states. The prescriptions were signed off by a doctor who had never evaluated if the patient had a need for the cream.
The scheme was tiered, and all participants would receive some level of kickback from the compounding pharmacy.
According to the plea agreement, the compounding pharmacy was paid more than $50 million for medications mailed to individuals in New Jersey, including $1.88 million for prescriptions submitted by Masucci and her cohorts.
Masucci’s plea agreement comes more than a year after it was revealed that federal subpoenas were issued to three Absecon Island communities seeking information about potential fraud targeting public employee prescription benefits.
In August 2017, Linwood pharmaceutical representative Matthew Tedesco, 42, became the first person to plead guilty in the scheme, which netted him $11 million in profit in little more than a year.
A volunteer coach in Somers Point, Tedesco also coached Charlie’s Chicks, part of the Jersey Shore Powder Puff League for women’s football, for which Masucci also played, Press archives show.
The last plea agreement in the case came in September from former Margate mortgage consultant Robert Madonna, who now lives in Florida. Madonna was one of the owners of a company formed to market prescription compounded medications.
None of the 20 co-conspirators who have taken plea agreements have been sentenced to date. Sentencing for a majority of conspirators is scheduled for November.
Masucci faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 5.
As part of her plea agreement, Masucci must forfeit her criminal proceeds and pay restitution in an amount to be determined at sentencing. Masucci was represented by attorney Amy Luria of Roseland, Essex County.