Former Pharmaceutical Sales Rep From Linwood, NJ, Admits Role in Health Care Fraud
A former pharmaceutical sales representative from Linwood has admitted to defrauding state and local health benefits programs and other insurers by submitting fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary prescriptions.
49-year-old Vincent Tornari pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to commit health care fraud and wire fraud.
Tornari was previously charged with 44-year-old Dr. Brian Sokalsky of Margate and former advanced nurse practitioner 66-year-old Ashley Lyons-Valenti of Swedesboro in June 2020.
Lyons pleaded guilty last month to healthcare fraud conspiracy.
The conspiracy to which Tornari pleaded guilty also involved former pharmaceutical sales representative 48-year-old Mark Bruno of Northfield, who pleaded guilty in December 2019 to health care fraud conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Attorney for the United States Vikas Khanna's office says,
- The conspirators learned that certain medications made by compounding pharmacies reimbursed for up to thousands of dollars for an individual’s one-month supply. They learned that certain insurance plans, including insurance plans for state and local government employees and certain other insurance plans, covered these medications.
- Tornari’s company had an agreement with a compounding pharmacy in Pennsylvania to receive 50 percent of the insurance reimbursement for prescriptions that were arranged by him and those working with him, such as Bruno. Tornari then paid Bruno 20 percent of that amount.
- Tornari and Bruno approached Sokalsky to secure his authorization for prescription medications made by the compounding pharmacy. Sokalsky agreed to prescribe the medications in exchange for cash and other remuneration. Sokalsky prescribed the medications to people Bruno paid cash to agree to receive the medications, even though those individuals did not need those medications and did not have a pre-existing doctor-patient relationship with Sokalsky. Sokalsky then billed insurance plans for patient visits for the people Bruno directed to his medical practice.
- Sokalsky also prescribed the medications to existing patients of his medical practice, as opposed to other medications or no medications at all, to financially benefit Tornari, Bruno, and himself. When insurance stopped covering certain formulations of the medications, Tornari and Bruno informed Sokalsky that he needed to authorize new prescriptions. Sokalsky did so, often without seeing the individual for a follow-up visit or informing the person of the change in medication.
The fraudulent prescriptions cost insurers over $541,000 and Tornari personally received more than $359,000 as part of the scheme, authorities say.
Tornari now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25th.
The charges against Sokalsky remain pending and he is scheduled to proceed to trial on April 24th.
The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.