TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) today announced criminal charges against a medical staff member and three other individuals allegedly operating an opioid distribution network from a physician’s office in Morris County.
The charges are the result of an investigation led by OIFP’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and the Parsippany Police Department, in conjunction with the Division of Consumer Affairs.
All four individuals were charged with third-degree conspiracy and third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud in connection with an alleged scheme to illegally distribute opioids obtained through forged prescriptions purportedly written by Dr. Leslie Feigin, a geriatric medicine practitioner in Denville.
- Rachel Welch, 36, of Lake Hiawatha, an employee in Feigin’s medical office. Welch is also charged with three counts of forgery and four counts of distribution of CDS, all in the third-degree.
- Kevin Jarvis, 35, of Lake Hiawatha, who allegedly used Welch’s position at the medical practice to facilitate the illegal transactions. Jarvis is also charged with three counts of forgery and four counts of distribution of CDS, all in the third-degree.
- Edward Williams, 34, of Netcong and Dylan Matus, 23, of Maywood, who allegedly purchased opioids in the scheme.
Feigin was not criminally charged in the scheme, but as a result of the investigation, the State Board of Medical Examiners permanently revoked his license to practice medicine in New Jersey.
“Medical office employees who use their trusted positions to divert prescription opioids pose a grave risk to public health and undermine statewide efforts to combat the addiction epidemic in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “The charges announced today send a clear message that we are committed to shutting down illegal CDS pipelines into our communities and holding accountable anyone involved in the trafficking of dangerous, habit-forming prescription medications.”
“Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is charged with investigating and prosecuting illegal activities involving Medicaid providers and their offices, including the unlawful diversion of prescription drugs,” said Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson. “The defendants in this case allegedly conspired to use a physician’s office as an illegal, money-making pill mill for their own personal gain, a venture that exposed the public to risks of addiction, overdose, or death. They are now facing the consequences of their alleged conduct in this unlawful scheme.”
The illegal opioid distribution network was discovered during an investigation opened after a tip that Feigin was engaged in the indiscriminate prescribing of opioid medications.
Welch, who is not a licensed medical provider, allegedly conspired with her co-defendants to unlawfully forge and submit electronic prescriptions for Oxycodone purportedly authorized by Feigin.
According to the charges filed, four illegal transactions took place between May 2020 and August 2021.
- A May 6, 2020 transaction wherein Welch submitted a forged, fraudulent prescription for 60 Oxycodone pills to a pharmacy in Williams’ name at the request of Jarvis, who did not work in Feigin’s office. Williams picked up the prescription. Jarvis then paid Welch $525.
- A February 18, 2021 transaction wherein Jarvis allegedly sold pills obtained via a forged, fraudulent Oxycodone prescription submitted by Welch and then paid her $500.
- A May 14, 2021 transaction wherein Jarvis allegedly sold pills obtained via a forged, fraudulent Oxycodone prescription submitted by Welch, and then paid Welch $900.
- A July 7, 2021 transaction wherein Welch submitted a forged, fraudulent prescription for 90 Oxycodone pills to a pharmacy in the name of Matus at the request of Jarvis. Matus picked up and signed for the prescription. Welch then sent Jarvis $40 to partially cover the cost the pharmacy charged for the prescription.
Welch, Williams and Matus were charged by complaint summonses on July 27, 2022 and were processed and released. Jarvis was taken into custody the same day and held in the Morris County Jail. Following a first appearance, Jarvis was released with conditions pending trial.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, and fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.
Although the criminal investigation did not give rise to charges against Feigin, it did provide the basis for administrative allegations on the part of the Division of Consumer Affairs that the physician engaged in gross and repeated negligence, professional misconduct, and other violations statutes and/or regulations administered by the Board of Medical Examiners, including that he indiscriminately prescribed CDS and failed to perform required checks of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program. In a Consent Order filed with the Board on June 25, 2022, Feigin agreed to retire and have his medical license permanently revoked.
“Health care professionals authorized to prescribe opioids and other controlled dangerous substances have a duty to comply with controls in place to prevent diversion and abuse. This includes making required checks of Prescription Monitoring Program records and taking steps to safeguard their prescription blanks against unauthorized access,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By revoking this physician’s license, the Board has ensured that he will no longer be in a position to provide easy access to addictive medications and undoubtedly saved lives in the process.”
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation on behalf of the Board of Medical Examiners.
Deputy Attorney General Nisha S. Lakhani of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law represented the State in the Board action against Feigin’s professional license.
Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Krayn is prosecuting the criminal case for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Detective Catherine Cardenes coordinated the investigation. Detective Daniel Cicala and Chief Richard Pantina of the Parsippany Police Department also played integral roles in the investigation.
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanked the Parsippany, Netcong, and Maywood police departments, for their assistance in the case.
In New Jersey, the New Jersey Medicaid Fraud Control Unit protects Medicaid beneficiaries and the Medicaid Program from fraud, waste, and abuse. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is within the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
New Jersey’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling approximately $4.1 million for Federal fiscal year (“FY”) 2022. The remaining 25 percent, totaling approximately $1.3 million for FY 2022, is funded by New Jersey.
To report Medicaid Fraud or Patient Abuse & Neglect, please email NJMFCU@njdcj.org, complete the Medicaid Fraud & Patient Abuse & Neglect Reporting Form, or call 609-292-1272. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit also conducts presentations educating the public and the health care industry regarding Medicaid fraud. For more information on presentations, call 609-292-1272.
Welch: Matthew Troiano, Esq., Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botanica, PC, Denville. NJ
Jarvis: Paul DeGroot, Esq., Newark, NJ
Matus: Emile Lisboa, Esq., Lisboa, Galantucci & Patuto, Hackensack, NJ