Margate appears to be at the center of a federal investigation into prescription plans, according to a report by NBC10.
The station found that a federal subpoena the city received last month asked for a list of all police, fire and city employees whose health insurance plans include Express Scripts, Medco and/or NJ Direct. The subpoena does not say why, and authorities aren’t commenting.
“I’m hoping that we get to the bottom of this quickly so we can deal with it and move on,” Mayor Michael Becker told BreakingAC on Saturday.
The station also uncovered that the city’s name-brand prescription drug costs more than quadrupled from 2014 to 2015, despite only a small increase in the number of prescriptions filled.
“Of course, we were all shocked when we saw that,” Becker said in a telephone interview.
The city does get yearly results on such spending, he said, but said they really don’t show anything unless you get multiple years at a time to compare.
“I wish we had caught it, obviously, but we didn’t,” Becker said.
The news garnered a lot of attention as talk of a large ongoing multi-agency investigation continues to swirl.
“We’ve all heard the same rumors, they’ve been going around for months,” Becker said. “Until Ted (Greenberg of NBC10) came, there was no documentation or anything. I can’t speak to the rumors because nothing’s official.”
Neighboring Ventnor refused the station’s request for its costs, citing an ongoing investigation.
The subpoena came around the same time as searches of Dr. James Kauffman’s Egg Harbor Township practice and various homes were conducted. It was unclear if there was any connection between the two. Kauffman’s attorney has said at least one of those warrants mentioned “various species” of medical fraud.
That investigation is part of a far-reaching one unrelated to the killing of Kauffman’s wife five years ago, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner has said.
April Kauffman was killed in the couple’s Linwood home May 10, 2012. This past May, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office made a motion to compel the doctor to give DNA in that still-unsolved case.
When police and FBI agents came to serve the search warrant at this office, Kauffman pulled a gun and threatened to kill himself. The standoff was recorded on a Linwood police officer’s body camera, and was cited by Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury as a reason to keep him held pending trial. His attorney, Ed Jacobs, has filed an appeal.
As for Margate’s mayor, he just hopes something happens soon so that the real information can be released, and the city can take action.
“We will deal with it as soon as the hammer drops,” Becker said. “We’ll do what we have to do.”
He suspects the FBI will come out with indictments, rather than just charging individuals.
The process in the past has been to suspend any city worker indicted for a crime without pay. If they are cleared, they would be entitled to that back pay. If convicted, they would likely never be able to have public employment again.
— Ted Greenberg (@tedgreenbergNBC) July 14, 2017