Three Men Admit Roles in $50 Million Health Care Fraud and Kickback Scheme

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NEWARK, N.J. – Three men today admitted their roles in a health care fraud and kickback schemes, U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Nicholas Defonte, 73, and Christopher Cirri, 63, both of Toms River, New Jersey, and Pat Truglia, 53, of Parkland, Florida, each pleaded guilty before U.S. district Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:

Each defendant played a role in defrauding health care benefit programs by offering, paying, soliciting, and receiving kickbacks and bribes in exchange for completed doctors’ orders for durable medical equipment, namely orthotic braces (DME orders):




The defendants caused losses to Medicare, TRICARE, and CHAMPVA of approximately $50 million.

The charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for March 22, 2022.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty; and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean M. Sherman and Ryan L. O’Neill of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement and Health Care Fraud Units in Newark, Senior Trial Counsel Barbara Ward of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit in Newark, and Trial Attorney Darren Halverson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

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