State sues retirees over “kickback pyramid scheme”
Attorney General George Jepsen on Tuesday announced a wide-ranging lawsuit over an alleged $11-million kickback scheme involving 13 current and former state employees who were paid millions of dollars by a Florida-based pharmacy.
Jepsen, the state’s top civil lawyer, charges that Assured Rx, a compounding pharmacy, paid Nicholas Maulucci of Simsbury, a former correction officer, and his former wife more than $2.65 million to file false claims under the state’s drug benefit plan for employees.
Eleven retirees of the Department of Correction are named in the lawsuit.
“These allegations are deeply troubling and completely unacceptable,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in reaction. “If proven true, they run afoul of the very core of what it means to be a public servant. Working for the people of Connecticut necessarily means that one’s conduct comports with the highest standard of integrity, honesty, and professionalism.”
The Mauluccis allegedly formed a company called NLM, LLC, and recruited others to receive payments in a classic pyramid scheme, in which those arriving later to the plan pay those who were involved earlier. The couple allegedly used a portion of their money to others they recruited, including eight retired employees of the Department of Correction.
The state employee pharmacy plan paid more than $10.9 million for prescriptions related to the alleged fraud-and-kickback scheme. Jepsen is seeking triple damages and civil penalties. The investigation was prompted from a complaint by State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who administers the pharmacy plan for state workers.
“The fraud we are alleging in this lawsuit is simply egregious,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “Our investigation has developed evidence that we believe clearly shows how a number of former and current state employees, led by Nicholas and Lisette Maulucci, defrauded the state employee pharmacy plan to the tune of millions of dollars in exchange for their receipt of kickbacks from Assured Rx for these extremely expensive compounded drugs.”
“Today’s action should send a clear-cut message,” Lembo said. “When you defraud the state’s health plan, you will get caught and you will face consequences. The state health plan is one of the most efficient plans in the nation, and we make every effort to monitor potentially troubling trends or transactions.”
Other defendants include Benjamin Franco, of East Haven, a retiree of the state Department of Correction, who along with his wife cost the plan $524,542; and Paul Germano, of Berlin, also a retiree of the state Department of Correction, who allegedly cost the plan $241,437. Other past and present employees reside in Wethersfield, Enfield, Stafford Springs, Southwick, Mass., and East Longmeadow, Mass.
Other marketers allegedly recruited by the Maulucci couple cost the Pharmacy Benefit Plan a total of $5,745,773 in prescriptions and were allegedly paid $230,764 for their roles in the scheme.
Anyone with knowledge of suspected fraud or abuse in the public healthcare system is asked to contact the Attorney General’s Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department at 860-808-5040 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney at 860-258-5986 or by email at email@example.com; or the Department of Social Services fraud reporting hotline at 1-800-842-2155, online at www.ct.gov/dss/reportingfraud, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.