Pharmacy kick-back conspirator pleads guilty

A pharmacy employee today admitted to conspiring to offer and pay bribes and kickbacks in exchange for having prescriptions steered to the Morris County, New Jersey pharmacy where she worked.

Magdalena “Maggie” Jimenez, 56, of Newark, New Jersey pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging her with conspiring to violate the federal anti-kickback statute.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig, documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Jimenez worked as a pharmacy technician and sales representative for a pharmacy located in Morris County, New Jersey.

From at least August 2019 to February 2020, Jimenez worked with other pharmacy personnel to pay kickbacks and bribes to a doctor’s employee in exchange for receiving numerous prescriptions from that doctor’s Jersey City office.

Jimenez paid up to $150 for each prescription steered to the pharmacy, which resulted in monthly kickback payments of up to $2,500 cash.

Jimenez instructed others to communicate in coded language when she discussed the kickbacks and bribes with them.

As a result of the scheme, the pharmacy received reimbursement payments from Medicare of approximately $539,000.

Srinivasa Raju, 49, a resident of the Haskell section of Wanaque Borough, in Passaic County, was charged with a parallel bribery and kickback scheme involving the same pharmacy.

Raju, formerly of Clifton, had finished serving three years probation following a 2016 conviction for distributing oxycodone without prescriptions in what state prosecutors said was a racket with Vincent Esposito, a former doctor turned local councilman who took a guilty plea and cooperated against him.

Raju lost his pharmacist’s license in that case and was later hired at the Morris County pharmacy to coordinate prescription deliveries and solicit business, among other duties. While in that job, Raju “worked with other pharmacy personnel to pay kickbacks and bribes to a doctor’s employee in exchange for receiving numerous prescriptions from that doctor’s Jersey City office,” Honig said.

The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2021.

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