N.J. FF convicted for role in $50M prescription drug scam

Margate Fire Department Firefighter Thomas Sher, 50, who faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, will be sentenced in January 2023


Chris Sheldon
nj.com

CAMDEN, N.J. — An Atlantic County firefighter was convicted Thursday for his role in a vast $50 million prescription fraud scheme that enlisted government and school employees to seek unnecessary speciality medications for ailments including pain, scarring, fungal and libido problems, authorities said.

Thomas Sher, 50, of Northfield, was found guilty in Camden federal court of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and three counts of healthcare fraud, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office.

Margate Fire Department Firefighter Thomas Sher directly received about $115,000 for his role in the scheme, authorities said.
Margate Fire Department Firefighter Thomas Sher directly received about $115,000 for his role in the scheme, authorities said. (Photo/Getty Images)

Sher caused the pharmacy benefits administrator to pay out almost $1 million for medically unnecessary compound prescription medications for individuals they recruited into the scheme, the office said. He directly received about $115,000 for his role in the scheme, authorities said.

The scam, which ran from July 2014 and April 2016, led to millions in kickbacks, authorities said.

More than a dozen people were indicted in March 2019 in the expanding probe of prescriptions for compounded medications, which are individually made for patients a much higher costs, officials said.

Compounded medications are made by pharmacists to meet the specific needs of individual patients. While lacking approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the medications still require prescriptions from a physician, and are often used when a patient cannot take FDA-approved medications. This can happen when someone is allergic to a specific ingredient.

The drugs made in Louisiana were eligible for thousands of dollars in reimbursements for a one-month supply, authorities said. Those involved in the alleged scheme learned that some in New Jersey, including local government employees, educators, firefighters, police officers and New Jersey State Police troopers had insurance that covered these speciality medications, as did some other insurance plans.

To date, approximately 40 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, including Sher’s brother, John Sher, a fellow Margate firefighter. He pleaded guilty in July to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

A spokesperson for the Margate Fire Department could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.

Thomas now faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest, the office said. He was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan.10, 2023.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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