NEWARK, N.J. – Two Toms River men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and are awaiting trial. Now, their Florida co-conspirator has confessed to being part of the scam that defrauded healthcare suppliers out of money.
Pat Truglia, 54, of Parkland, Florida, was sentenced to 120 months in prison after pleading guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
Truglia’s two co-defendants, Nicholas Defonte, 73, and Christopher Cirri, 64, both of Toms River, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
The Department of Justice, in court said 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 (DME), namely orthotic braces.
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said Truglia and his conspirators had financial interests in multiple DME companies.
“The DME companies paid kickbacks to suppliers of DME orders, including Cirri, Defonte, and Truglia, in exchange for DME orders, which the DME companies subsequently fraudulently billed to Medicare, TRICARE, CHAMPVA, and other health care benefit programs. Truglia and his conspirators concealed their ownership of the DME companies by using straw owners who were falsely reported to Medicare as the owners of the companies,” Sellinger said. “Truglia, Cirri, Defonte, and their conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained DME orders for beneficiaries of Medicare and other federal health care programs.”
According to a report by the Department of Justice, the call centers paid illegal kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies to obtain DME orders for these beneficiaries. The telemedicine companies then paid physicians to write medically unnecessary DME orders. The DME orders were provided to DME supply companies owned by Truglia and others in exchange for bribes. The DME supply companies in turn provided the braces to beneficiaries and fraudulently billed the health care programs.
Sellinger added, Cirri, Defonte, and their conspirators had business relationships with call centers through which they obtained prescriptions for compounded medications and other medical products reimbursable by federal and private health care benefit programs. Cirri and Defonte provided these prescriptions for compounded medical prescriptions and other medical products in exchange for kickbacks and bribes from companies that fraudulently billed them to health care programs.