NEWARK — A central figure in a $50 million prescription drug fraud scheme that used public employees in New Jersey pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Hayley Taff, CEO of Louisiana-based Central Rexall Drugs, admitted her role in a scam in which public-sector employees in New Jersey were recruited to get expensive compound, or specialty, prescriptions they didn’t need and hadn’t been prescribed.

Wednesday marked the first time the pharmacy or Taff had been identified, though earlier indictments had referred to an unidentified Louisiana-based pharmacy. The 37-year-old Hammond, Louisiana, resident took more than $1.5 million from the scam, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Taff also agreed to forfeit more than $1.5 million.

According to authorities, the scheme exploited the fact that some state and local government employees had insurance that covered expensive compound medications such as pain, scar, antifungal and libido creams. Reimbursements ran as high as thousands of dollars for a one-month supply.

The compounded medications were developed solely based on the amount of money the insurance company would pay for them and weren’t based on patients’ needs, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Central Rexall Drugs received more than $50 million in reimbursements from state pharmacy benefits administrators in 2015 and 2016, authorities said, as Taff coordinated with two co-conspirators in New Jersey who expanded the scam by recruiting additional public employees.

Among the more than 30 people who have already pleaded guilty are a school guidance counselor, firefighter and a New Jersey doctor who admitted signing prescriptions for patients he never saw.

Taff's sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 1.


(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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