A southern New Jersey man accused of masterminding a prescription drug scheme that authorities say caused more than $50 million in losses to health benefit programs and insurers pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
William Hickman faces sentencing in November on one count each of money laundering conspiracy and health care fraud conspiracy. The 44-year-old Northfield resident and several other people were indicted in March 2019 as part of a long-running investigation by state and federal authorities.
The indictment alleged that Hickman, a sales executive for a pharmaceutical company, and his associates exploited the fact that some state and local government employees had insurance that covered expensive compound, or specialty, medications such as pain, scar, antifungal and libido creams. Reimbursements ran as high as thousands of dollars for a one-month supply.
A Louisiana-based compounding pharmacy received more than $50 million in reimbursements from state pharmacy benefits administrators in 2015 and 2016, according to the indictment. A company Hickman created in his wife’s name received a percentage of that amount from the pharmacy, according to authorities.
Authorities said Hickman and the others recruited public-sector employees who were paid to get prescriptions they didn’t need and hadn’t been prescribed. Among the more than two dozen people who have pleaded guilty was John Gaffney, a Margate-based doctor who admitted signing prescriptions for patients he never saw.
As part of his plea, Hickman agreed to pay more than $53 million in restitution and forfeit several properties acquired with proceeds from the scheme.
Several of Hickman’s co-defendants are scheduled for trial this fall.