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Northfield board member pleads guilty in health care fraud case

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A Northfield Board of Education member admitted to using his job as a pharmaceutical representative to bilk the state health care system of more than a half-million dollars. Mark Bruno, 45, also admitted to obstruction of justice for instructing co-conspirators to lie to a grand jury.Two dozen others including doctors, firefighters and teachers already have pleaded guilty in the scheme that had doctors writing prescriptions for expensive — but unnecessary — compounds that were paid off with thousands through public employee insurance.Bruno made nearly $70,000 in the scheme that cost state health insurance $524,935, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. Bruno admitted introducing a doctor to the company and getting a percentage of the payments for prescriptions that the doctor wrote. The doctor would be compensated for signing the prescriptions to people recruited and paid by Bruno, according to the charges. Two people Bruno paid to receive the medications told him this year that they had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, according to the complaint. Two others said they had been contacted by the FBI.Bruno told all four to lie and say he didn’t pay them, he admitted.Bruno chose not to run for re-election to his board seat, which expires at the end of the year. His attorney would not comment on his status.While running for re-election in 2016, Bruno told the Ocean City Sentinel that he was surprised to learn how important it is to be fiscally responsible without sacrificing the ability of the children to learn and the teachers to teach. “There is a lot that goes into it," he told the paper.
"It is like a business; you have goals and financial restrictions. You want to do what is best for the children, but it is a balancing act."The health care fraud and wire fraud conspiracy count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Bruno’s sentencing is scheduled for March 24.

Pleas in the case

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Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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