TRENTON, N.J. – Paramus's Eduard “Eddy” Shtindler, the previous owner of the now-defunct Empire Pharmacy in West New York who was charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and pay illegal kickbacks to a doctor in September following a federal health care fraud raid, pleaded guilty to both counts before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp today in Trenton federal court.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney District of New Jersey, both crimes — conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks to a doctor — are punishable by up to 10 and five years, respectively, and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito attributes Shtindler’s guilty plea to an investigation by special agents of the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; and the N.J. Office of the State Comptroller, under the direction of Comptroller Philip James Degnan.
Shtindler, 36, owned and operated Empire Pharmacy from 2012 to 2017. In 2015, Empire perpetrated a fraudulent scheme to bribe doctors to send pricey specialty medication prescriptions to the pharmacy at the behest of Shtindler. According to the new release, he reportedly bribed a Hudson County psychiatrist to send prescriptions to his pharmacy. The paper currency was rolled up in pill bottles, occasionally in $100 denominations, which were delivered to the doctor in exchange for patients.
Because specialty medications mandated prior authorization to be approved for reimbursement by insurance providers like Medicare and Medicaid, two pharmacists at Empire falsified prior authorization forms for medications for various autoimmune diseases and viral infections like Hepatitis C. In this time, the pharmacy managed to defraud the insurance companies out of at least $2 million.
According to the release, Shtindler was heard admitting to his and his business’s practice of falsifying prior authorization forms to gain approval for the meds. In one of them, Shtindler is heard in a recorded conversation telling a “concerned” former employee who had delivered a bribe to the doctor on his behalf, “First off, I didn’t make you do it. I didn’t put a gun to your head. We all made money together. It is business.”
In another conversation with the same employee, Shtindler is heard saying, “You think [the doctor]’s going to go to the FBI and rat himself out?”
As part of his plea agreement, Shtindler has agreed to loss amounts between $1.5 million and $3.5 million for each of the charged conspiracies.
A sentencing is scheduled for March 24, 2020.